Video games have had an interesting journey. Increasing in complexity and sophistication, they are today’s most interactive way to tell a story. Recently, they entered the mainstream, no longer regarded as the lonely bastion of nerddome and geekery. This year has been particularly interesting in the world of video games and gamers. We have seen a lot of discussion in the mainstream media about the roles of games in our society. (We touched on this subject in our Feminists Are Ruining Video Games post). Feminist media critics have called attention to the dearth of women and minorities in video games themselves as well as among the developers. While big titles like Grand Theft Auto and Call of Duty are not very progressive in their politics, there are many games that are doing something innovative and beautiful with the genre. One such game is Never Alone.
This is a guest post by Christa Blackmon in collaboration with Youtube series PaulTalks.
Some people say the greatest sex organ on a human being is the brain. Fantasy is an essential part of our sexuality so it should come as no surprise that when we started dreaming up creatures from other planets we also started thinking about how we could f*ck them.
I sat down with gender activist Paul Roth to talk about this very specific alien fantasy: the blue skinned alien woman who can connect not only with your body, but with your mind.
We take a look at three examples in popular science fiction from the last twenty years: Zotoh Zhaan in the Australian TV series Farscape, Neytiri in James Cameron’s Avatar, and Liara T’Soni in the Mass Effect video game series.
What’s the deal with their incredibly specialized sexual talents? Is it a harmful fantasy or is it a sign that our culture is broadening its ideas of sexual connection? And what’s so hot about the color blue, anyway? Watch the video to find out and tell us what you think!
Christa Blackmon is a freelance writer specializing in conflict, gender, and science fiction living in Washington, DC. You can follow her at @TheOdalisque.
This is a guest post by Nadine Santoro. Originally published in “the paper.”
If you received an anonymous email threatening “the deadliest school shooting in American history” unless a feminist speaker scheduled to visit your university cancelled her trip, do you think it’s a message you would take lightly? The Utah State University staff certainly seemed to. Feminist video game critic Anita Sarkeesian was scheduled to speak about the portrayal of women in video games at USU on October 15th, 2014, until the university received this threat.
“If you do not cancel her talk, a Montreal Massacre style attack will be carried out against the attendees, as well as students and staff at the nearby Women’s Center,” the message warned. “I have at my disposal a semi-automatic rifle, multiple pistols, and a collection of pipe bombs.” The writer signed the email under the pseudonym of Marc Lepine, a shooter who took the lives of 14 women in 1989 at École Polytechnique in Montreal before committing suicide. Lepine’s suicide note explained how he “decided to send the feminists, who have always ruined [his] life, to their maker.”
Like the real Marc Lepine, the alleged USU student behind this threat directs his anger towards feminism in a graphically violent way. Continue reading
My feminist heart is a-flutter because Majestic Hero Woman, Anita Sarkeesian is going to be on the Colbert Report tonight.
Why should you care about Anita Sarkeesian? First, she’s been the subject of some horrifying harassment and death threats that forced her to cancel an appearance at Utah State University. Second, she’s the all-around badass human being who runs Feminist Frequency, a Youtube channel and web site that posts brilliant feminist critiques of movies, TV, and lately, an incredible series on female representation in video games, entitled Tropes vs. Women in Video Games. Recently, game developer and DDP guest writer Stevie discussed her and other fantastic feminist figures (wooo alliteration!) in the gaming world in her piece, Feminists are Ruining Video Games.
She will be brilliant and perfect and in her own words:
You can catch the Colbert Report on Comedy Central tonight at 11:30pm EST or on Colbert Nation after the fact.
In the meantime, get pumped by watching the first video in Sarkeesian’s exhaustively researched, ridiculously great Tropes vs. Women in Video Games series. Remember, whether you decide to feed the trolls or not, we’ve got your back.
This is a guest post by Stevie. Content warning for misogynist abuse.
There is a long-standing idea that women are a small, unimportant minority in the video game community. Recently, this idea has been turned on its head, and women now make up nearly half of video game consumers. This changing dynamic has been quite troubling for many male gamers. As women have become a larger segment of the gaming community, they have become vocal, and it’s causing quite a stir.
These women have been pointing out that mainstream gaming is still heavily misogynistic and that AAA game studios, armed with the ability to create literally anything, continue to put out games with the same protagonist: dark haired, scruffy, heterosexual white male. These women have noticed that when developing these and other characters in their games, studios refer to the same set of tired tropes and narratives, many of which perpetuate damaging stereotypes of women. These women, often self-professed feminists, have had the audacity to express their opinion, which is creating quite a bit of tension with “true” gamers (white, male gamers who like video games just as they are). These women have offended “true” gamers, and those gamers have responded with an impressive amount of backlash. Though these individuals represent a minority in the gaming community, it is troubling to note how they continue to proliferate throughout the community.
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The 2013 study on Sales, Demographic and Usage Data conducted by the Entertainment Software Association found that 45% of the United States gaming population are female. Still, when most people think of a “gamer,” their first thought is never a woman. We still think of gamers as a nerdy, glasses-wearing boy or young man with a passion for all things “geeky”. Over the past decade, this has changed with growing numbers of female gamers, among other marginalized groups, entering the community. However, within the gaming community, female gamers continue to be scrutinized on their knowledge and abilities, and if they fail, are accused of being a “fake geek girl,” and subjected to misogynistic character attacks. Aisha Tyler felt the brunt of this when she hosted Ubisoft’s presentation at E3 (Electronic Entertainment Expo) in 2012 with a slew of comments like this:
this is what happens when you let the jews and liberals infect your industry_ to inject “diversity” and “progress”
dont let them kill our games people
Tyler’s authority to host the event was called into question by individuals who knew nothing about her. Despite being an avid gamer, participating in numerous E3 events, and voicing characters in 3 major games, she was immediately discredited by trolls for no other reason than being a woman. In response, Tyler penned an open letter to the gaming community on her Facebook page, stating that she plays video games and will “still be playing when your mom’s kicked you out of her basement and you have to sell your old-ass console and get a real job.”
This is a guest post by Chu.
If you haven’t already heard of Steven Universe, then it’s about time you did. Steven Universe is a cartoon about a young boy born into a magical guardian race called the Crystal Gems, and throughout the series he learns wholesome life lessons while fighting wondrous monsters and navigating wacky hijinks around his hometown. At first look this doesn’t sound particularly out of the ordinary for a show in the Cartoon Network line-up, but Steven Universe is far from typical.
Anyone who owns a car knows, and I mean knows, every song that is popular now, knows how often that song is played and can probably guess what song is coming up. As the summer comes to an end, one of the top songs on the Pop channel is All About That Bass, by Meghan Trainor. To me, this is a song that is an important step forward in body positive media. While it is not perfect, for a 3 minute and 10 second song written by a 20 year old, it touches upon important issues regarding body image in both the lyrics and the video.
Over a year ago Sara Barreilles release Brave, a song that was inspired by watching her friend struggle with coming out as gay. The song has had great success on the radio, and it’s no surprise: it’s catchy, feel-good, positive and uplifting. In case you have been living under a rock, you should check it out:
“Say what you want to say. And let the words fall out. Honestly, I want to see you be brave”
Brave, is a song explicitly about empowerment, encouraging others to be speak up for themselves and be what they want to be. It’s an empowerment “anthem” (because you have to call it an anthem, apparently) that actually acknowledges that empowerment is a process that requires courage.
Brave is not the first ‘empowerment’ song Sara Barreilles has written by any means. It’s just that Sara’s songs are not usually written so explicitly about empowerment. Usually, they are written with empowerment woven seamlessly into them.
If you’ve looked at a computer or television screen in the last week, you’ve probably heard something about Ferguson, MO and a boy named Michael Brown. Perhaps you’ve heard a lot of conflicting stories. Let’s gets some facts straight.