The Big Bullshit Outrage of the Day

Something that I never realized until I started Indie Gamer Chick and started reading people on Twitter and Facebook and shit is, get this, video games can be sexist or misogynistic at times.

The hell you say!

Although, to the game industry's credit, you could probably get more teenagers interested in history if you told them Joan of Arc dressed like this.

Although, to the game industry’s credit, you could probably get more teenagers interested in history if you told them Joan of Arc dressed like this.

I generally try to stay out of gaming politics, because you really can’t win.  It’s just like real politics.  If I was to go on here and say that I think Barack Obama is a socialist twat, I’ll have liberals mad as hornets.  If I say I think Barack Obama is a moderate pussy with no backbone, it will piss off the moderates, who would then go so far as to rip their own backbones out of their body and raise them up triumphantly to say “see, we’re not like Obama, we have backbones.”  And then they would die because you can’t live without a backbone, the fucking idiots.  And if I say I support Comrade Obama and his socialist paradise, the conservatives would lock and load and ask me to present my birth certificate to prove I’m not a Cuban socialist who plans to enslave mankind with such evil acts as health care and healthy food.  Like I said, you can’t win with this shit.

There’s been a few “games are anti-XX chromosome” controversies in the short time I’ve been writing this shit.  One involved a girl who got some threats because she wanted to do a Kickstarter to raise funds to do a study on how women are portrayed in a sexist way in games or some such thing.  People asked for my opinion on the matter.  I honestly didn’t have one, except “you needed money to study this.. why?”  She could have accomplished the same thing by being blindfolded, pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey style, turned loose in a Gamestop, and then have her pick any random game off the wall.

Oh sure, the one female character is a pig!

Oh sure, the one female character is a pig!

Here’s a thought: list every person you know that owns, say, a dedicated gaming console that belongs to them and nobody else, and has at least five games for it.   Alright, how many of them are men?  Write it down.

Now, how many of those people are women?

No, you don’t really know her.  Has she ever said more than five words to you?  No?  Then don’t list her.

Hey you, I said gaming console, not cell phones.

Yea, I guess you can count PCs, but NO expansion packs.  If she played the Sims for 10 years and only bought expansions for it, that’s one game, not 30.

Okay, got a number?  Now subtract that from the number of men you know who fit the same category.  Pretty big number, huh?  And that is why gaming caters to men.  It’s just smart business.  Me?  Not only am I very much a minority as far as gaming goes, but I don’t even feel I represent a demographic with the potential to own more than a 20% market share within the next ten years.  (Edit: According to the ESA, 40% of all gamers are female. Doesn’t really sound right. I’m more curious how many of those are console gamers, but I’ll give that point up). I’m not looking to change the world here.  All the economic and social studies show that gaming is a man’s world.  That’s not very women’s lib, but it is reality.

The most successful “girl games” are really fairly gender-neutral stuff, while games that I would think cater 99.9% to guys do whatever is necessary to get sales, and often do get said sales.  Not every idea is a winner, such as today’s Big Bullshit Outrage of the Day: a pair of plastic tits.  Oh thank God, you mean guys are no longer okay with fake boobs?  Well that’s a good thi.. oh.  Oh this.

Zombie-Bait

Seriously?  This is what’s causing guys to flip the fuck out?  And it typically is guys, because you know, the gaming industry caters to men as we previously established and thus girls are busy doing other things like, I dunno, watching awful romantic comedies starring Katherine Heigl or something and thus aren’t checking game sites for the latest Big Bullshit Outrage of the Day.

I don’t get it.   I don’t get why anyone would want to own that God-awful piece of shit.  I’m talking about Dead Island, not the bust, though I don’t know why anyone would want to own that either.  Then again, I’m not really into having gaming clutter piling up.  Some people are.  Some people collect the shit.  But, I also don’t get the outrage.  What else are you going to have represent a game like Dead Island?  The most fitting thing I could think of is a colostomy bag on account of it being a steaming slurry of liquified turd.  But then people would probably be outraged at how anti-geriatric games have gotten.

So while it’s not my personal taste, I could see how a developer could figure that most gamers wouldn’t be offended by it.  Look at what gamers are into.  What are the three most popular shows among gamers?  Well, going off the 700 or so people I follow on Twitter, 99.9% of which are men who play a shit load of games:

-Walking Dead.  While my non-horror loving boyfriend was on vacation, his non-zombie loving girlfriend finally broke down and watched the pilot of the show.  It was alright, but I would like to point out that the first thing that happens in the first five minutes of the first episode of the series is a little girl (can’t be older than 10) gets her head shot off by a police officer.  Oh, but that doesn’t count, because she’s a zombie now.  Well, whose to say that the chick in the torso wasn’t a zombie too?  Or maybe the girl wasn’t a zombie, but just in really bad need of dental work.  Ever been to the UK?  That little girl would have blended in just fine there.

This is the picture you show children that are scared to get braces.

This is the picture you show children that are scared to get braces.

-Wrestling.  Every fucking day with the wrestling on Twitter.  And wrestling typically includes scantily clad women who stage play fights for the amusement of men.  Where are the positive female role models there?  What message does this send to young girls?  You get ahead in life if you paint hand-prints on your tits and strut out naked in front of fifty thousand live people and millions watching at home?

-Mad Men.  I’ve never seen it, but a critic from the Los Angeles Times wrote that, exact quote here, “the sexism, in particular, is almost suffocating, and not in the least fun to watch.”  Again, never seen it, don’t really think it would be my thing, have nothing against it at all, but it’s a very popular series among gamers.  How come this form of sexism for entertainment is alright but gaming sexism for entertainment isn’t?

And that’s not counting other ultra-violent, blood and guts movies and television series.  Because I have no life, I went through some of the twitter feeds of those who are bizarrely outraged by a plastic bust of a pair of boobs and saw fanboy gushing for such properties as Dexter, Saw, or gaming properties like Mortal Kombat.  Mortal Kombat, where you can actively do this to a woman:

Jesus fucking Christ dude!!  I mean, holy shit, that’s awful!  Where was the outrage for that shit?  Not that I was personally offended.  I wasn’t.  I wasn’t offended by that, or by the bust, or by Walking Dead, or by wrestling, or by Mad Men, or by Dexter, or by any other thing that people could be outraged by.  I wasn’t even offended by the E3 footage of Lara Croft getting the full torture-porn treatment.  Was it a little unnerving?  Yea.  Actually a lot unnerving.  I’m not really sure I want to play that game.  But I honestly don’t see the difference between that and a slasher movie.  I don’t know what that says about me or society, that we’re that desensitized, but I’m not going to fake outrage that I don’t personally feel.

I started playing games when I was seven years old, but I only started writing about games within the last two years.  And to be honest, I’m not sure I’ve ever truly been offended by a game.  Alright, maybe the Houchi Play, which was a game where you played as a horny Japanese guy trying stalk and goose unsuspecting women.  That was creepy and extraordinarily fucked up, and I truly believe anyone who could find it fun is probably a giant-sized creeper with a microscopic pecker.

I can’t explain why that makes my skin crawl, yet I don’t wince at the thought of guys laughing their asses off at blowing away hookers in Grand Theft Auto.  I would like to say that, yea, it’s kind of disappointing that there aren’t more positive female characters in games, but you can’t say that the industry doesn’t cater to the right (IE profitable) demographics.  Grand Theft Auto sells boatloads.  So does Mortal Kombat.  That next Tomb Raider game is going to make so much money they could build a fifty-foot tall statue of Lara getting impaled on a wooden post out of the stacks of cash it will earn.  I’m not even interested in it (seriously Crystal Dynamics, that video was pretty fucked up), but I’m not offended by it.  Do you know what offends me?  It’s always guys who squeal the loudest and rush out to defend womankind when the Big Bullshit Outrage of the Day happens.  As if we can’t speak for ourselves.  That is so sexist.

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The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

18 Responses to The Big Bullshit Outrage of the Day

  1. I think it was just a general call by writers such as Jace Hall, who I almost always listen to and support, pointing at an obviously thoughtless campaign. Instead of saying fuck it, I think we should try and say ‘yes.’ Turn this useless and thoughtless marketing campaign into a chance to reflect on other thoughtless games that aren’t improving things. XBLIG looks like a group of choir boys when you talk about bringing that grotesque excuse for art into your home. Shark Attack Deathmatch may be a detestable exercise in gaming, but they didn’t tell you to put a maimed shark on your desktop as an homage to their game. But really, this is for the people of Europe and Australia, who have different tastes? Aren’t they the ones always pointing to the US as having a culture that thrives on violence? Well… the marketers needed some kind of excuse to cover their own asses.

    I think you know that thing is detestable. This might be one of those situations where you just need to get on the bandwagon, and call something what it is.

  2. roscone says:

    To be fair, I find the bust itself a little creepy. I don’t want that on my desk. That’s the real offense here if you ask me, it’s just kinda gross. However, I can see how some people find it offensive and (the bleeding heart that I am) I care about those people.

    As to your question about girls who own their own consoles etc, I actually found it to be a roughly equal proportion of my male and female friends who fit that descriptor. I go to a nerdy college though, so everyone plays a lot of games here though.

    • I think it’s a slippery slope. You ever seen Red Letter Media’s Plinkett reviews? The main character is a misogynistic serial killer who openly talks about (and sometimes actively on the show) murders young women. It’s done in a completely unrealistic, campy style. Is that something that should be rallied against? Or is that okay because it’s a fellow nerd making fun of a series of movies everyone hated (the Star Wars prequels?)

      It’s the double standard that I really hate.

      And by the way, I fucking love Red Letter Media and wasn’t trying to direct hate at them. They are actually part of the inspiration for this site.

  3. I completely agree with your sentiment that folks need to lighten up and stop going out of their way to get offended by stuff. It seems like every few days on twitter there is a new issue for people to stomp around and get pissed off about.

    Sometimes it is amusing, but other times it gets really old.

    But on the issue of what portion of the gaming market is women, I’m going to throw some numbers at you:

    42% actually. And they spend 3x as much on virtual goods. Some companies are better at reaching them than others.

    Our 17 year old, super hardcore, RP required text MUD/MMO (Threshold – http://www.thresholdrpg.com) is over 50% women. Doesn’t get much more hardcore than MUDs.

    Coin ‘n Carry (http://www.coinncarry.com) and Tower of Elements (http://toe.frogdice.com) are 75% female players. Big Fish Games’ entire platform is also about 75% women.

    And Big Fish does ~2 million game downloads a day.

    So don’t sell women gamers short! :) They are a vital part of the market!

  4. argamae says:

    For the first time since I am reading your blog I am not quite sure I understood what you are rambling on about in this article. I mean other than insulting Britains, calling “Dead Island” a piece of shit and stomping on the upcoming Tomb Raider. At least that is what stuck with me after a first read-through. Maybe I completely missed the point.

    For the record: I love “Dead Island” and will likely feel the same about the upcoming “Riptide”. Even though the whole Zombie trope has already lost it’s luster I find this one of the most attractive franchises in this regard. Then again, I don’t find a bloodied bust of a dead british chick with fake tits particularly enticing. Nor would I want to own one. Do I find it offensive? Yeah, a little. Would I make a fuss over it? No. I actually wonder whether this sort of thing appears in actual gameplay. Since the pic’s name is “zombie-bait” maybe there is a mechanic in the game where you can chop up deceased (female) vacationers into pieces to throw them at zombie hordes. That would be gross. Even for a hardcore title.

    And concerning female gamers. Yeah, some of my friends are but they are clearly in the minority. Two are actually pretty badass and like a lot of “men’s titles”, i.e. with blood and gore and shooting going on and stuff. :) On the other hand, not one of these likes racing games. Go figure. Oh, sorry, was that sexist already? ;)

  5. argamae says:

    Addendum: I send the pic of the bloody bust to one of the aforementioned female friend gamers via e-mail. I just asked: “spontaneously, just tell me your first opinion or thought”.
    The answer actually frightened me a little bit. She replied: “mega cool!” Then she added, in a second e-mail, that she would probably have killed that chick if she was a zombie, only to choke on the silicone. ;)

  6. Jim Perry says:

    Part of the problem with this kind of stuff is the way things are twisted by social media (not enough detail being shared) and the lack of journalistic skills by people impersonating journalists on sites. My understanding is that no one seemed to get the point that this was a EU edition and their tastes aren’t the same as US tastes.

    If people would stop feeding the trolls maybe they would die off. Then again, this is the same kind if thing as when people slow down as they pass by an accident to see what’s going on. I want to smack those people upside the head with a tire iron. :(

    There really is no solution to stupidity, at least none that’s legal.

  7. Just a quick note on Mad Men: yes, it is sexist as hell, but it’s also a sort of over the top satire on life in that era. Everyone chain smokes everywhere (and FYI a terrible show to watch why trying to quit), drink in their offices 24/7, treat women terribly, etc, etc. Part of the point of the show is some of the strong female characters trying to survive in such an unfair society. The reviewer you quoted didn’t get that. I would say the more sexist part of the show is it sort of paints a “look how far we’ve come!” picture for the modern viewer, but without showing modern times it fails to highlight that in some areas (such as video games) we still have a ways to go.

  8. Marky says:

    Successful marketing, then. I imagine they knew people would see the image and immediately rush to criticize it, so they can demonstrate to the world – because people need to see it – how much of a fan they are of this “equality” craze. I wonder how smug they felt as they typed.

    Some of the criticism seems bizarre. Some articles have called it misogynistic, as though a single dismembered female torso somehow translates to a hatred of women in general (though I guess “misogyny” is a fashionable term to use nowadays, even when misused). Some articles have complained you wouldn’t see a male torso like that, oblivious to the Resident Evil 6 butchers marketing stunt (albeit in that case, they weren’t trophies). I guess it’s easy to find things to be offended by if you’re actively trying.

    I can safely say I wouldn’t’ve checked out this game without the circus. Now, I have. And I’m not interested. Moving on…

  9. I personally would love to see more commentary of this nature from the Indie Game Chick. I thought this was a great post.

  10. 1. You’re sexist because you’re not offended by this.
    2. You’re also zombie-ist because you don’t like The Walking Dead.

  11. Jimmy Page says:

    You know what did offend me about this bust.
    It was UK only. I’m not even joking the plan was for this item to be only available in the UK. What the hell makes the developer think the UK would be more interested in this than the rest of the world ?
    I mean the US special rigor Mortis edition come with a little Zombie hula girl figure, a weird wooden key and a zombie hand bottle opener. That sound passable as you get a crappy figure, a useless key and an actually potentially useful bottle opener

  12. I’ll be honest here: I find the bust offensive, at least in the idea that you can pay extra to have a trophy of a brutalized pair of tits. Of course, it’s also just disturbing, but I don’t find the gore offensive. Just gross and unsettling. I doubt I’m going to go out and protest this or every other piece of what-the-fuck out there because I’d probably never sleep if I did, but I do find it odd that people don’t see the potential of this as being incredibly offensive.

    Also, Mad Men shows what life was like back then (well, and then some), much like any pre-Civil War movie can and may show black guys getting bought and worked into the ground. A special edition of Mad Men doesn’t, however, come with a virtual girlfriend you can smack around when your wife isn’t home and then mount with varying degrees of consent.

  13. An XBLIG Guy says:

    I think this is a good article that started with a great sense of direction. However, I got lost somewhere in the middle.

    * To start, let me state that I am a man, and I find it rather upsetting that women think that such pictures are made to lure my attention. Just so all genders understand what I’m trying to say, is that only a small group with sadomasochist tendencies are “attracted” to sexualized gore.

    * Second, let me say that I am glad that I have but only heard about the TV shows that are mentioned here. I wonder what would be the answer if the question had been about the gamer’s favorite books.

    * Third, I am a parent, and as such, I am concerned about how violent a game can be. People here complain about mutilated corpses. Have you guys seen “naughty bear – panic in paradise”? As a parent, I’m rather concerned about the wrong message transmitted to young generations.

    * Last, I’m an Independent game developer, and as such, I’m trying very hard to get my games out in the open without offending anybody, specially women. I am aware that a successful marketing strategy includes spicy pictures. However, it is imperative to never, ever, reduce women to a sexualized object. Now that would be offensive.

  14. Lewis J says:

    Thought this was a game title for review. Disappointed.

  15. Lol123 says:

    I have not seen a “point” yet.

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