Tropes vs the Recently Released

TheGameguru wrote:

Fairly sure somebody at EA/Bioware thinks Diversity is an old old wooden ship.

EA, I could see not worrying/caring as much, maybe. Hard to say, I haven't picked up much from them in the last few years that wasn't also from Bioware.

Bioware, on the other hand, as previously noted, has had, minus a few sh*tty bits occasionally (like the above or the City Elf starting campaign in Dragon Age: Origins)... has had a pretty good record with at least trying.

I mean, Inquisition had one of the first trans characters I saw in a game that didn't immediately have Hypatian in my head telling me why this was bad (being cis, I totally didn't even think of the missing dialogue option on relating to Krem's feelings on the matter).

And one of the last books before the game launched included a genderfluid character too (a Grey Warden during the blight with the Elven warden who ended it and the last blight with the gryphons in their care).

I'd say they do seem to care, or at least generally, before now, haven't gotten in the way of the writers/story leads caring... which strikes me as better than nothing.

Demosthenes wrote:

I'd say they do seem to care, or at least generally, before now, haven't gotten in the way of the writers/story leads caring... which strikes me as better than nothing.

I think that the company ethos is very much in line with caring about representation - though it is important to note that the Andromeda team is relatively new. Judging from the early reviews, Andromeda is didn't take the time it needed to polish and refine a lot of its content. It apparently has a bunch of half-baked systems and interesting ideas not really polished.

It strikes me that that scene suffers in a similar way - it is sloppy. It feels like a first draft where nobody got the homework done and ending up rushing (and therefor not thinking it through.) Which is a shame because a sloppy inventory system is annoying and makes for bad gameplay, but an ill-thought out stab at diversity is actively harmful to many personal level and is certainly harmful to all on a cultural level. Especially with Bioware's reputation for getting this kind of thing right, and what they represent as a result of getting this stuff right in the past.

If this was a small release from an unknown company, I'd have a lot more space for the mistake. Most of the time it is better to try and fail and learn than to not try at all. But if you happen to be Bioware you have a responsibility (fairly or unfairly) to get this right. And it is upsetting that it feels like they pushed it to the side in the heat of the production process.

Polygon just put an article on the trans NPCs in Zelda, ME:A, and horizon (I had no idea there was a trans character in this one TBH and is the main reason I'm posting this):

http://www.polygon.com/2017/3/21/150...

My main take away is we need more trans main characters (written by trans people) and less side characters and that there's an argument that Zelda is slightly less of a trash fire then it first looks.

Was just going to post that but you beat me to it.

ClockworkHouse wrote:

:lol: That's impressively clumsy.

About the subtlety of a sledgehammer. =\
Very unfortunate.

IHateDRM wrote:

My main take away is we need more trans main characters (written by trans people) and less side characters and that there's an argument that Zelda is slightly less of a trash fire then it first looks.

Completely agree. I feel we don't have enough diversity among writers.

Someplace where ME:A seems to have done OK by trans characters:
http://www.polygon.com/2017/3/27/150...

There's also an article on Kotaku about the way it handles gay male characters: http://kotaku.com/underwhelming-gay-...

Some of the same criticisms for woman-woman relationships.

All of the Asari characters are there (in fact half of all W/W relationships in ME games to date) which pads out the selection of romances to be not nearly as sparse as M/M relationships.

But, across the board animations and such don't feel like they know how to show two women being intimate with each other. (I saw a comment today talking about how a woman/Asari sex scene had animation that seemed to imply the presence of a rather rigid penis. Yes, some women have those. But not all of us do, and those who do don't always want to use them quite that way, if they even can.)

(Kudos for including bisexual characters who aren't Asari in the lineup, though. Even if their animations also don't feel right.)

Eurogamer also took a light stab at writing about representation in ME:A, and spends about the other half the article talking about some other notable examples of trans characters.

Not sure where else to post this (and surprisingly haven't seen it posted anywhere else unless I missed it), but the last Tropes vs. Women in Video Games released yesterday.

I made the mistake of reading the comments on the Eurogamer article about the conclusion of the series. The dudebro wankers are certainly out in force.

DudleySmith wrote:

I made the mistake of reading the comments on the Eurogamer article about the conclusion of the series. The dudebro wankers are certainly out in force.

I did the same thing this morning too. I read it through Feedly, which meant two extra clicks to get to them.

IMAGE(https://media.giphy.com/media/3oKIPliGDCTCjW82sM/giphy.gif)

EG's commentariat can be hit-or-miss on topics like this. Definite miss today. Good on EG for doing what they do regardless though.

I finished Dishonored 2 last night. It's a very good example of how a narrative can feature a number of significant, strong female characters and yet still be quietly and pervasively misogynistic.

At the beginning of the game, you're given a choice to play the game as Corvo, the protagonist of the first Dishonored, or his daughter, Emily, an Empress brought low by a coup. Usurping her is Delilah, a powerful witch, who has been building a conspiracy against the Empress for years. Helping Emily or Corvo reclaim the throne is Meagan, a tough, street smart woman with a violent past.

At first glance, these are all well-executed female characters. They're all thoughtful, capable, and independent, as powerful or more powerful than their male counterparts. Emily can be every bit as violent, ruthless, and intimidating as Corvo, and she never shies away from what she does. Delilah is somewhat sexualized in her demeanor, but all three women are respectfully and realistically dressed for the kind of people they are and what they do.

It's clear that a lot of effort was made on Arkane's part to avoid the tropes and fantasies of many female video game leads. Nevertheless, the course of the narrative does a lot to undermine each of those women, and all in the same way.

(Spoilers below for late-game revelations and developments in Dishonored 2.)

Spoiler:

By the end of the game, it becomes clear that all three women's inner lives are dominated by their fathers and father figures. The game even draws a clear line between the presence of a father figure and the basic morality of the women themselves.

Despite interacting throughout the game with the ghost of her mother, the relationship that shapes and motivates Emily is with her father, Corvo. She strives to make him proud with her decisions, and his has been a guiding hand on the development of her character throughout her life. The game's final image of Emily is of her on the throne, Corvo beside her like an uncrowned co-ruler.

Delilah is similarly shaped and driven by her father. She's the illegitimate daughter of the previous Emperor, Emily's grandfather, and she is as defined by his absence and neglect as Emily is by her father's care and attention. At first glance, Delilah seems to be driven by jealousy of her half-sister and Emily's mother, Empress Jessamine, but time and again, Delilah returns to her father's inattention and broken promises as a reason for much of that jealousy.

Meagan's father doesn't appear in the game or even get a mention. Instead, she revolves around two surrogate father figures. Early in the game, she's driven to rescue an elderly inventor named Sokolov from captivity, and after he's been rescued, she dotes on him as a daughter. Late in the game, it's revealed that Meagan is secretly a character from the DLC for Dishonored, a woman named Billie Lurk who was second-in-command to a man named Daud, the assassin who killed Emily's mother.

In that DLC, Billie Lurk attempted to overthrow Daud to take control of their mercenary group, but Daud defeated her and exiled her as punishment. Billie expresses remorse to Emily over having killed the Empress Jessamine, but if Emily spares her life then the endgame recap shows Billie following a kind of redemptive arc not toward a life after guilt but instead back toward Daud, "the closest thing to family she had ever known".

With each of these women, it is the presence of strong male figures that gives them moral guidance and the absence of those figures that leads to moral decay. Emily is who she is because Corvo was with her; Delilah is who she is because her father wasn't. Meagan/Billie was cast out for trying to usurp her father and was lost in the a moral wilderness, but by the end, her compass has been properly realigned with Daud the father figure as true North.

Reinforcing this idea of men as the moral cornerstones for women is Delilah's coven of witches. After Delilah comes to power, they take over the Imperial palace and the surrounding district and all live together in isolation, calling each other "sister" and prowling the palace grounds. They are the game's only glimpse of a group of women without men, and they are despicable. They have decorated the palace with the hanging corpses of men who have attacked them, hanging bodies on display in areas they know only they will visit. The witches live in squalor and ruin, sleeping on dirty mattresses in leaky rooms, their bodies unwashed and their clothes ragged. Men in Dishonored are often presented as violent and cruel, but they also have structures of power and order. Women without men, it seems, live like animals in the dust.

I don't think the writers for Dishonored 2 set out to make a game about how women need men in order to be good people. I believe they set out to create a world where the heroes and villains alike could be women who were powerful and deadly. If anything, I suspect they thought they were creating a game that was progressive and empowering. But it feels like a narrative where the people who wrote it weren't able to view women except through the lens of fatherhood. It's a curiously rah-rah female empowerment outgrowth of the very patriarchal idea that a woman's most significant relationship is always with her dad.

I wouldn't recommend against the game by any means, but I'm troubled by the implications and subtleties of the story it told. It stands as a reminder that making a game that's fair and balanced in its portrayal of women goes beyond questions of what they're wearing or how they act.

My gut feeling is that this is not quite the same for Prey, but I'd really need to give it another play through and pay more attention I think. Obviously there's the difference that the main character is either male or female depending on your choice (but it is still the same character). And although I'm sure it's the same either way, when you play as a woman it does still feel sometimes like you're playing second fiddle to your older brother and (later, indirectly) dealing with a situation caused by your somewhat tyrannical father.

Although you do basically get to ignore pretty much everything the brother is telling you to do and you can screw him over plenty of times throughout the game, so I guess he's not necessarily the boss of you at any point. And you are also dealing with taking most of your orders/objectives from 'January', which is...interesting...

Spoiler:

...Since you are essentially being led from objective to objective by an earlier backup version of yourself

There's a lot of other great stuff about Prey too (there is a 'D&D'-related lesbian romance email/message/side-quest chain to follow which runs for the duration of the game pretty much and is really fun) and if you play as a woman you also have a female 'ex' who factors into some of the side quest stuff.

Also, ,as mentioned in the spoiler above, you also spend quite a lot of time butting heads with..

Spoiler:

...yourself. (Not the January version, the version of you that existed before you essentially had a memory wipe). Since the current version of Morgan is - memory-wise- much less cynical and morally bankrupt than the version that put herself indefinitely into testing, throughout the game you end up having the chance to clean up after problems or situations old Morgan created to further her goals.

In fact, I would almost call Previous Morgan one of the game's main antagonists at times, which I thought was a REALLY interesting approach to take.

(Caveat: I really need to give this another playthrough to pay more attention to what's going on to be certain of any of the above - it's a HUGE game and there's a ton of stuff going on in it!)

Dishonored 2 is sort of an interesting case in that it unlike a lot of things feels like something of an honest failure. There appears to be a decent stab at the subject matter and if you count Cara Ellison's input three fifths of the games writing staff were women. Though none of the games directors were which may be where the blame falls. Still on some level I think I value a game that fails with the input of women more then a game that never even tries to get a woman's input put and succeeds by not doing anything.

It's hard to really say without knowing what went on behind the scenes though.

Bending the rules slightly, but here's Fem Frequency's overview of gender representation at this years E3...which does reasonably well, relatively speaking. Compared to past years at least. Still plenty room for improvement in games that have a 'fixed' main character though.

[url=https://feministfrequency.com/2017/0... Breakdown of Games at E3 2017

IMAGE(https://femfreq2.files.wordpress.com/2017/06/e3-2017-gender.png)

This year, more featured games than ever before allow players to either choose from a pre-existing assortment of characters of varied genders or to create their own. In fact, over half of all games featured at press conferences, 58 out of 109, fall into the category of games in which you do not play exclusively or primarily as a specific male or female protagonist. Being given the option to create your own character, or playing as multiple characters of different genders, is great. But it’s worth noting that, in games where a choice of gender is not provided, over three times as many games featured centered on men as centered on women.

Something I definitely noticed was a larger number of female characters and avatars on show during the press conferences...

We appreciate and commend those games that featured female characters and players in their E3 demos. Anthem, for instance, is a game in which players can determine the gender of their character, but the demo centered on a female character and female player. Presentations like this help to normalize the presence of women in both online and physical gaming spaces.

and on another non-related note...
(spoilers for Yakuza 0 and Persona 5)

The next X-box avatar system will be entirely inclusive...

The Avatar 2.0 is built on Unity and will allow for a lot more customization, including removing required gender roles, or assigning certain types of clothing or looks to a gender.

“Our new avatars are built with inclusivity in mind,” said Kathryn Storm, interaction designer with Xbox, during a streamed interview on Xbox’s Youtube. “We want people to feel like they have endless options to reflect who they really are.”

Bryan Saftler, Xbox lead product manager, said that the new avatars are a complete redesign that has been built from the ground up.

Wow, I never thought I'd see the day. Progress? From Microsoft?

they did a pretty good job in the press conference too. A lot of their demos either showed women playing the games or focused on women avatars (e.g. The forza demo, bioware's new IP, etc).

Thanks for sharing. It's easy to be inundated with bad news; hearing about positive progress as a culture is heartwarming.

Just wanted to confirm the presence of women throughout DiRT 4. To begin with, there are ten choices for your player model, five male and five female, with four different ethnicities or a full face helmet option for each. To clarify, the full face helmet isn't default male, there's an option for a woman driver wearing a full face helmet too.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/Zor5cqk.png)

Real-life professional co-driver Jen Horsey is back from Dirt 3, along with Nicky Grist, so there are female and male English language options, and both of their faces have been modeled for the game. The rallycross and landrush spotter options are male only, and so are the rest of the non-English language co-drivers and spotters.

All the rest of the staff in career mode exist only as names and portraits in menus, but there are still women to be found here in all the roles. Since their names are just a first initial and last name, they could have easily been non-specified without portraits (like they are in Dirt Rally), but portraits they have (like in ETS2). Women are in the minority, but it's entirely feasible to hire an all-female crew, in case Codemasters adds the Rebelle Rally. Right now I have a women chief engineer and PR agent, one of my two regular engineers is a woman, and of course my co-driver is Horsey.

IMAGE(http://i.imgur.com/ukPJzGO.jpg)

The colours you've chosen for your owned cars are also reflected throughout your team, including your helmets, firesuits and gloves, as well as your service area and transports. So your driver can rock whatever colours she wants.

IMAGE(https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd.net/ugc/853843656177677162/809CEA2BD301D713F0F896B46D42E912A3C7CA08/)

Gravey wrote:

and of course my co-driver is Horsey.

For a second, I thought you meant that you have a pony in the passenger seat.

iaintgotnopants wrote:
Gravey wrote:

and of course my co-driver is Horsey.

For a second, I thought you meant that you have a pony in the passenger seat.

Pacing is magic!

BadKen wrote:
iaintgotnopants wrote:
Gravey wrote:

and of course my co-driver is Horsey.

For a second, I thought you meant that you have a pony in the passenger seat.

Pacing is magic!

She makes my car 20% cooler.

TJDW* : Critique of Shadow of War's inclusion of Shelob, not as a giant spider but as a sexy flimsy gown-wearing lady, and the double standards of being able to include 'ugly / non-conventional / old' male characters but rarely allow the same breadth of designs for women characters.

*(Too Jim Didn't Watch)

Also I had no idea there was a (reasonably good?) trans character in Watchdogs 2. Anyone able to go into a bit more detail about how she's represented?

pyxistyx wrote:

(Too Jim Didn't Watch)

This speaks to my heart.

This is as good a place as any to report that Pyre allows you to choose he/she/they as pronouns which warms my heart. Also, a fairly balanced roster of male/female characters with really no sexualization to speak of.

ClockworkHouse wrote:
pyxistyx wrote:

(Too Jim Didn't Watch)

This speaks to my heart.

His poopy humor and self-aware-self-aggrandizement are guilty pleasures of mine. I delved into the Youtube comments to (no surprise) find the typical BS but was heartened by the number of people bothering to make well-reasoned retorts to the troll brigade. Not that I would recommend wading in of course.

I generally stick with my tried and true "use plugin to block all youtube comments" method. It's super effective!

Demyx wrote:

This is as good a place as any to report that Pyre allows you to choose he/she/they as pronouns which warms my heart. Also, a fairly balanced roster of male/female characters with really no sexualization to speak of.

I haven't really sat down with Pyre properly yet but I did play enough to see that, which was very encouraging.