Author Topic: Bechdel test and other media analysis about discrimination  (Read 13858 times)

I don't think you can compare rape with murder/violence. No one is traumatised by an Agatha Christie, or disturbed by a Jackie Chan film. Murder can be a subject for light-hearted, lurid fun in a way that sexual crimes can't (at least, responsibly). 

Is not it a curious and strange thing, in terms of human psychology? And I actually wonder how people's acception of murder in media may be affected by the media culture of certain society.
For instance, I was a kid in USSR, and in our film and television the murder was something very rare, and very rarely depicted in detail. Death in combat was a norm because of the multitude of war movies (which we had quite a lot), but it was never lighthearted obviously. And ofcourse that would be unimaginable to see something like Arnold Schwarzenegger's action film where he kills 100 men with a machine gun like it was a joke, let alone something like a slasher movie. Too bad I hardly remember myself in my childhood, so it's difficult to imagine what would be my impression on movies that I watch today.
EDIT: then around 1990 we started to watch pirated VHS movies. I think at first it was a weird impression.


By the way, speaking of comparison between people getting killed and people getting sexually or otherwise humiliated, I wanted to add this example that a lot of young boys, at least of my generation, were not opposed to the idea of "dying heroically" for whatever cause seem just, or withstand a "torture" where they ofcourse won't break and tell enemy any information. Assuming the "torture" is something like beating ofcourse. On another hand I doubt anyone would be excited of this idea if the "torture" was rape. Innocent kids don't realize that may be a possibility, and those of older age tend to switch it out from imagination unconsciously.



PS.
For example, when I was growing up, I was the only girl in my class who played video games, and even when I played alone in my room, I could feel weird for wanting to try Call of Duty, and only seeing men in that game

BTW, Call of Duty had women in Soviet campaign. COD2 at least, I was replaying it short while ago and there definitely are women soldiers.

TBH I am not so sure whether this is because (or only because) it's focused on men players. It could be also because developers are commonly taking the simpliest route possible and base their game setting on most primitive tropes ("only men fight in wars"). The COD in particular always drew inspiration from the popular war action films (first soviet mission is literally copied from "Enemy at the Gates" with Jude Law). They could've added female soldiers to USSR because that was a more outstanding fact about soviet army, or even as a cliche about it.

PPS. Another trope I found recently is a French "Resistance Girl" in a red beret :D
https://cdn.mos.cms.futurecdn.net/xpv7eirqcFYuFgx8yVrGuJ-970-80.jpg
« Last Edit: 19 Jan 2021, 03:14 by Crimson Wizard »

How nice of you, would it be OK if I put it in my banner?

Sure, go ahead!

I don't think you can compare rape with murder/violence. No one is traumatised by an Agatha Christie, or disturbed by a Jackie Chan film.

I'm not sure if this refers to what I was saying earlier, but I wasn't exactly thinking of Agatha Christie when I mentioned men also being treated badly. If there was a way to somehow quantify characters' suffering (humiliation being a subcategory of that) as a result of violence in movies, would your guess be that women would rank higher per capita? Not that that's even remotely possible, just curious where people's intuitions lie.

Murder can be a subject for light-hearted, lurid fun in a way that sexual crimes can't (at least, responsibly).

Not in general, but men being raped is sometimes played for laughs. You have your soap-dropping jokes, and then there are things like Hangover 2. It's a bizarre one - the guy is raped on his wedding day and the actor plays it more or less straight, no goofiness, you can see he's genuinely devastated. But the whole thing is framed as just one of those craaaaazy shenanigans the guys go through and the main issue ends up being how he's gonna hide it from his bride-to-be. The weird tonal mismatch almost makes the movie interesting :). That's one of the reasons I'm not sure I can agree that male rape is seen as a more heinous offense. It might be more viscerally uncomfortable for guys to watch and it definitely takes the titillation aspect out of it, but I don't see a soldier commando rushing to avenge the victim.

So far I find the studies Blondbraid linked to be most compelling here. There are a lot of different assumptions being made about how people interpret and react to scenes of sexual violence, so I'd be curious what actually happens in people's heads, in relation to which aspects of the scene, and all the different factors that play into it. That's also why I find attempts like the Unconsenting Media database potentially misleading - it tries to bundle a vast array of differently framed and executed scenes into a handful of categories, which may not be representative of how people perceive those scenes in context.
« Last Edit: 19 Jan 2021, 06:43 by Honza »

Ali

  • What will become of the baron?
    • Ali worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Ali worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Not in general, but men being raped is sometimes played for laughs. You have your soap-dropping jokes, and then there are things like Hangover 2.

I can't comment on Hangover 2, but that sounds very different to the average prison-rape / drop-the-soap joke. Those tend to be homophobic, and the fact that we laugh at them tells you how readily we dehumanise criminals. Criminals, like women are regularly treated as less-than-whole by fiction (and, coincidentally people in reality).

I'm not sure if this refers to what I was saying earlier, but I wasn't exactly thinking of Agatha Christie when I mentioned men also being treated badly. If there was a way to somehow quantify characters' suffering (humiliation being a subcategory of that) as a result of violence in movies, would your guess be that women would rank higher per capita?

It's not that women suffer more than men in films - it's that women's suffering is commonly a plot device in service of a male character's personal journey. When the man is being tortured, the audience is in the chair with him. When the woman is being tortured, the audience is with the protagonist, trying to find her. I can't think of more than a handful of stories where a woman's husband is murdered/kidnapped/abused and she seeks revenge.

I also think the studies are very interesting, but I don't think it's necessary to demonstrate a cause-effect relationship between troubling media portrayals and negative real-world behaviour. From a writer/creator point of view, it should be enough to recognise that the narrative conventions we grew up with tend to commodify and exploit the suffering of women, while centring men's experience.

By the way, speaking of comparison between people getting killed and people getting sexually or otherwise humiliated, I wanted to add this example that a lot of young boys, at least of my generation, were not opposed to the idea of "dying heroically" for whatever cause seem just, or withstand a "torture" where they ofcourse won't break and tell enemy any information. Assuming the "torture" is something like beating ofcourse. On another hand I doubt anyone would be excited of this idea if the "torture" was rape. Innocent kids don't realize that may be a possibility, and those of older age tend to switch it out from imagination unconsciously.
I think you hit the nail on the head, and I think that this is why, in war propaganda, they are fine depicting all other sorts of violence and they are fine showing or implying women being threatened by sexual violence because it's a way to rally men into acition by going "look what they're going to do to our women!", but the sexual violence and rape men suffer in war is kept secret, because while you can die heroically in battle, or be a brave symbol whilst being tortured/executed (the film Braveheart springs to mind), you can't portray suffering rape as something heroic, because that crime is all about humiliating and depowering the victim and the perpetrator taking enjoyment from doing it. I remember being absolutely shocked when I read this article and seeing just how prevalent wartime rape against men was, because it's virtually never brought up in any media, documentary or fiction, and I think a big reason for it is that it would be immensely harder for men to fantasize about going to war if they considered it to be a risk they themselves would have to risk. 

As for Call of Duty, I should have specified that I played the first CoD in the series, which didn't have any female soldiers in it.  :-\
Not in general, but men being raped is sometimes played for laughs. You have your soap-dropping jokes, and then there are things like Hangover 2. It's a bizarre one - the guy is raped on his wedding day and the actor plays it more or less straight, no goofiness, you can see he's genuinely devastated. But the whole thing is framed as just one of those craaaaazy shenanigans the guys go through and the main issue ends up being how he's gonna hide it from his bride-to-be. The weird tonal mismatch almost makes the movie interesting :).
I strongly recommend you watch this video by Pop Culture Detective, which explains why this trope happens pretty well. I don't like it either.  >:(
So far I find the studies Blondbraid linked to be most compelling here. There are a lot of different assumptions being made about how people interpret and react to scenes of sexual violence, so I'd be curious what actually happens in people's heads, in relation to which aspects of the scene, and all the different factors that play into it. That's also why I find attempts like the Unconsenting Media database potentially misleading - it tries to bundle a vast array of differently framed and executed scenes into a handful of categories, which may not be representative of how people perceive those scenes in context.
I should have added that Unconsenting media isn't meant to be a scientific database, it's man purpose is to give people a chance to look up weather a film depicts sexual abuse beforehand and decide if they want to watch it. If you have depression, anxiety or PTSD, such sites are a lifesaver.

Personally, though, I've come to feel that there is no ethical way to depict rape on screen because no matter how heinous you think you make the scene, some creep will find it arousing. Then, there's also the issue of actors being abused on set, and directors specifically adding scenes of sexual assault in the script to punish them, this post links a few good articles on the subject.



That all being said, I can't help but feel as though there's something incorrect about this whole discussion.  :-\


Right. We were talking about discrimination tests in the first place.

Are really useful in videogaming?

_


That all being said, I can't help but feel as though there's something incorrect about this whole discussion.  :-\


Right. We were talking about discrimination tests in the first place.

Are really useful in videogaming?

_
(sorry if my first reply in this thread started a separate discussion and sidetracked the initial question)  :-[

As for tests, I can agree that the Bechdel test isn't too useful when it comes to video games, due to many games not featuring conversations between npc's in the first place (everybody just hanging out waiting for the player to interact with them being an old standard in gaming),
but that doesn't mean other forms of discrimination tests don't matter. As I mentioned previously, as a girl, only seeing boys in video game marketing and only seeing burly men with guns on the covers made me feel alienated as a kid, and it was seeing cool female game protagonists like Lara Croft, April Ryan and Zoe Castillo that got me into gaming, and eventually made me want to try more different games (including those with burly gunmen on the cover). So yeah, I think representation matters in gaming because I've experienced the effects of it firsthand, and I think having media tests can be useful in discerning broad trends and help people start to think and discuss the matter.

Maybe an alternative to the Bechdel test more adapted to video game-style narratives would be to ask if a game has;
1. A named female character (with an actual name, not a title)
2. Who has a full conversation with the player character/protagonist (more than two sentences),
3. And her conversation isn't about a romantic or sexual relationship with the player character

Any thoughts on this?


An intriguing question. And a most intriguing discussion that it began. Brace yourself, the incompetent word-steward is about to dump far too much hot text in your lap!

Frankly, I do agree on the general nastiness of a lot of media nowadays. This peculiar sex-fiend arms-race in detective fiction is part of the reason why I do not like anything grittier than Father Brown these days, as far as television is concerned. Of course, not all contemporary crime dramas participate, but there is an unpleasant tendency to attempt to come up with new and fresh atrocities to keep the public shocked. For a while, it is as if a crime drama had no chance unless it featured some woman murdered in some ghastly, ironic manner.
I suppose I may simply be squeamish, but I cannot say that it is my type of entertainment, which is the operative word. At least the dreadful adverts featuring clips of abused animals have the purpose to draw in some money to the fund that means to help them.
I can see horrors and cruelty unbound whenever I please, behind my eyelids, if I look for it. I do not particularly want to, so I cannot say that I appreciate the service, even if it is meant to carry an element of catharsis.
I partly lay the blame at Stieg Larsson, at least locally. He exorcised some personal demons rather more publicly than I would consider proper, and then it seems to have become a sort of fad. One where ladies are the canvas the monster of the week is painted on. A standard. The trend is shifting, at last, but I think my general aversion to grit is permanent.

Indeed, George R. R. Martin is a most gifted author, and I do admire the solidity of his work. But I do not like it. I like me fairy-tales. They need to have something dark in them, but they need to be cosy. Wondrous, swashbuckling, grim and baroque at times, but they must have a space for cosiness. Post Game of Thrones, there seem to be an impression that fantasy must focus on cruelty and cynicism. As if Game of Thrones succeeded where other tales failed, and the cruelty that made so much of its stock had anything to do with it.
Lord of the Rings would no doubt had been greatly improved if Aragon had gouged the eyes out of a few rivals to the throne, Sam had sold Frodo out for a newly conquered fiefdom and Gimli had raped a few elves while they were passing through the elf woods.
I respect Mr Martin's authorship and I am happy for his successes. But when this dark legacy dissipate from fairy land, I shall be a very happy man.

Now, then. As a note on the subject of expectations and growing up. When I was a boy, I had a doll-house. I had made it myself and was very proud of it. It was vaguely modelled on 221b Baker Street, I seem to recall. Of course, no one could ever know. It was my little secret, something just for me. I kept it very close, and had a lot of good times with it. No one outside the family knew a thing.
I cannot say that I was truly ashamed of my little 'vice'. It harmed no one, and no one would ever know. You are in charge of making your own fun in this world. I would have died of embarrassment if it had become known, of course. Less because it was something to b e ashamed of, and more because it was a secret little deviancy, all of my own, and there were a lot of meaner boys out there. They could hurt you, and it felt so hideous, the very idea of the school-yard bully getting a chance to come in and destroy your private little world. It was not actually wrong of me to make dollies solve mysteries and decorate rooms in my own time; it was simply very unwise to let it become common knowledge.

I still think that people should be allowed this private space for themselves. My secret doll-house is now mostly an amusing anecdote to friends and a box of good memories, but I think that everyone should be allowed a secret garden.

Similarly, I recall another discussion I had with another boy. I was (and remain) fond of horses and horsemanship. He maintained that it was girly. I countered with knights, cowboys, caroleans. I think that he agreed, and saw my point (enough to not think less of me, at least), but he remained adamant that horses were now inseparably and irrevocably in the realm of girlhood. Sometimes, you are reminded even in youth that things do not necessarily make sense.

Peculiar things, these expectations there are. Of course, there is always room to defy them.

As to why the sexual violence inflicted upon soldiers is not mentioned very often, I am unsure. I have not thought of it. It is quite common, however, as is all modes of cruelty in a war. It is odd that it is not present more in the media that is decidedly anti-war and presents it at its most hellish. However, I cannot wonder that it, among with a lot of other hideous and utterly inglorious things are omitted in works that, if not glorifying to war, certainly tones down its horrors for the sake of the story or style of the piece.

It is a bit like an old naval warfare phenomenon that (mostly rightly) does not make it into the swashbuckling pirate films. All the chaps on the battery decks tend to have soiled themselves after a while. Partly out of fear or want for a break, but mostly because of the reality of firing a broadside in an enclosed area. Yesterday's dinner must go somewhere.
There is a reason that this is not modelled. It is rather hard to illustrate on film, and if it is one of those adventurous pirate pictures, it would rather break the mood. The same reason why the pirates are generally not shown branding, buggering or cutting the lips (and frying them) off of their victims, as was a distinct possibility amongst real pirate crews.
Indeed, the frequency in which the participants soil their underpants in battle is fairly great. It likely always have been. Battles are always terrifying, Marathon to Mosul, and as they are generally an all-day event, you could hardly duck out of the phalanx to tend to necessities. Considering the pressure and the shock-waves of the modern battlefield, I can only imagine that there is a significant expenditure on underpants on deployments.
There is the lice, too. I do believe George Orwell, in one of his novels, say something on the lines of 'All soldiers are riddled with lice in war. The pacifists would be wise to use pictures of them in their pamphlets. The men who fought at Verdun, Waterloo, Thermopyle, all had lice crawling over their testicles.'
Both lice and turds are difficult to illustrate, of course. Difficult to model in a game. And in most war stories, there would be little point. In a Big Serious War is Hell picture, most certainly worth trying to bring across. Less so in Where Eagles Dare, for instance. Or indeed Call of Duty. War as entertainment is a different question all together.

There is, however, good reason to discuss where sexual violence is specifically absent and where it is not. Would 'Lawrence of Arabia' have benefited from a rape scene? It is doubtful, and I can understand its omission. However, would the matter be treated differently if it had been 'Laura of Arabia' instead? I imagine it would, and that I find the disagreeable part.

Well, on that note, there practically was a Laura of Arabia. Queen of the Desert, about Gertrude Bell. Nicole Kidman, I believe. It rather failed to capture her, I fear. Ms Bell is a very intriguing woman. To make a boring film of her is almost as doubtful an achievement as making it needlessly unpleasant.

As for the original question, I am unsure. I am a firm believer in the power of checklists, but I think fiction may be the exception. Tests of this kind is useful to keep in mind, but I myself remain hesitant to use them, or at least stick to them. At least partly because I imagine I would simply muck it up.
That said, it is worth the time considering. A perfect agreement may not come, and I do not think that every work owes it to be spot-free, checked and tried. It is worth examining what stories that feature old-model Orcs à la Tolkien may say and what it may not say, but sometimes, a nasty old Orc is just what you need to make the blasted tale work as it needs to.


That all being said, I can't help but feel as though there's something incorrect about this whole discussion.  :-\


Right. We were talking about discrimination tests in the first place.

Are really useful in videogaming?

_
(sorry if my first reply in this thread started a separate discussion and sidetracked the initial question)  :-[

As for tests, I can agree that the Bechdel test isn't too useful when it comes to video games, due to many games not featuring conversations between npc's in the first place (everybody just hanging out waiting for the player to interact with them being an old standard in gaming),
but that doesn't mean other forms of discrimination tests don't matter. As I mentioned previously, as a girl, only seeing boys in video game marketing and only seeing burly men with guns on the covers made me feel alienated as a kid, and it was seeing cool female game protagonists like Lara Croft, April Ryan and Zoe Castillo that got me into gaming, and eventually made me want to try more different games (including those with burly gunmen on the cover). So yeah, I think representation matters in gaming because I've experienced the effects of it firsthand, and I think having media tests can be useful in discerning broad trends and help people start to think and discuss the matter.

Maybe an alternative to the Bechdel test more adapted to video game-style narratives would be to ask if a game has;
1. A named female character (with an actual name, not a title)
2. Who has a full conversation with the player character/protagonist (more than two sentences),
3. And her conversation isn't about a romantic or sexual relationship with the player character

Any thoughts on this?

An interesting list, although as all such lists, it needs to remain somewhat open. Sunless Skies fulfills the second and third most easily, but it fails the first. This is simply because with the exception of the chosen player name and Her Renewed Majesty, Empress Victoria of Albion, Slayer of Suns, there are no names, only titles. 'Repentant Devil', 'Incognito Princess', 'Indurate Veteran', 'Inadvisably Big Dog', and so forth. They are all characters, but the Sunless games do not often 'do' proper names. It works better than it sounds, believe me.
« Last Edit: 19 Jan 2021, 22:37 by Reiter »

That was unexpectedly poetic Reiter, you wouldn't happen to write prose and essays for fancy magazines as your day job?

Also, I'm surprised that there was a Nicole Kidman film based on Gertrude Bell, I might just see it from curiosity. I'm not a super fan of Werner Herzog's films or his methods, but my mother adores his works
and he's an acclaimed filmmaker among "culture-cardigans" who consider any mainstream audience critiquing it for being boring to be a badge of honor.  (roll)
Plus I guess in my opinion, I'd rather have a boring than an unpleasant and malicious film when it comes to portraying real people.


Both lice and turds are difficult to illustrate, of course. Difficult to model in a game. And in most war stories, there would be little point. In a Big Serious War is Hell picture, most certainly worth trying to bring across. Less so in Where Eagles Dare, for instance. Or indeed Call of Duty. War as entertainment is a different question all together.

I don't know where or when it began, but it's not uncommon to see soldiers vomiting of stress and fear in contemporary movies. Which was not shown in the XX century films, I believe.

An interesting list, although as all such lists, it needs to remain somewhat open. Sunless Skies fulfills the second and third most easily, but it fails the first. This is simply because with the exception of the chosen player name and Her Renewed Majesty, Empress Victoria of Albion, Slayer of Suns, there are no names, only titles. 'Repentant Devil', 'Incognito Princess', 'Indurate Veteran', 'Inadvisably Big Dog', and so forth. They are all characters, but the Sunless games do not often 'do' proper names. It works better than it sounds, believe me.

True for most of the game, but there are exceptions in Fallen London and Sunless Sea: the three sisters at Hunter's Keep are Phoebe, Cyntia and Lucy; there's also Virginia, the deviless, F.F. Gebrandt, the chemist, and at some point, you can find out that Mrs. Plenty's first name is Miriam.

That was unexpectedly poetic Reiter, you wouldn't happen to write prose and essays for fancy magazines as your day job?

Also, I'm surprised that there was a Nicole Kidman film based on Gertrude Bell, I might just see it from curiosity. I'm not a super fan of Werner Herzog's films or his methods, but my mother adores his works
and he's an acclaimed filmmaker among "culture-cardigans" who consider any mainstream audience critiquing it for being boring to be a badge of honor.  (roll)
Plus I guess in my opinion, I'd rather have a boring than an unpleasant and malicious film when it comes to portraying real people.

I certainly wish that I did! One day. One day, I say!

Provided they do not run out of types.

I can see why she may like it. I do have a soft spot for pictures that dare to be slow, and have 'dead air'. I am also enough of a snob to be able to see why the cardigans would think that, I shall admit. And frankly, I do agree. They could have done much worse to Ms Bell than made her picture boring.

Now! Pertinent to the topic, I just thought of something. I recently fell in mad love with the game ArmA III. However, it fails the test quite severely as it does not seem to feature any women at all, which is a most curious absence now that I see it.

On the one hand, I see why. Previous games did feature women NPCs, as particularly ArmA II was about peacekeeping and establishing ties with the locals. N.o. 3, meanwhile, is more conventional combined arms fighting. The scope is not big enough to feature logistics or other areas where women service members would undoubtedly be present, if not in the front line, but they do not even feature in the radio communications or mission control. It is very weird, once you notice it. Extraordinarily curious. Considering that ArmA III did sacrifice a lot of the simulation aspect to bring the gameplay back to focus, a few servicewomen would not have been a stretch at all, certainly not for 2035.

Then again, the meat and potatoes of that game is making your own missions in it, with voice recordings and everything. Rigging and modelling is out of the question, but I certainly could cast a few servicewomen in the comms, at least. Dig where you stand!

That is also another question. Where stands a complete absence of women or different races where they should be expected to be, rather than a bad use of such characters? And what reasons for it are reasonable?

Both lice and turds are difficult to illustrate, of course. Difficult to model in a game. And in most war stories, there would be little point. In a Big Serious War is Hell picture, most certainly worth trying to bring across. Less so in Where Eagles Dare, for instance. Or indeed Call of Duty. War as entertainment is a different question all together.

I don't know where or when it began, but it's not uncommon to see soldiers vomiting of stress and fear in contemporary movies. Which was not shown in the XX century films, I believe.

That is a good point! It is a bit easier to illustrate that way, as it were, and I must say that it adds without taking away. A solution that I had forgotten, and now that you say it, I see it. Something to keep in mind.

It was a long time ago, and I will have to re-watch it some time, but I do think that To Hell and Back had similar instances, but it was also made to truly portray that sort of stress and fear, as much as the time it was made in could abide. It was quite raw for 1955, and frankly, I think it still is, even without arms and legs flying around. Of course, it is particularly interesting since the star of the picture, and indeed also the subject of it, would later speak out on battle-fatigue, its long-term conditions and how to improve the care of those afflicted. I imagine that a lot of modern post-traumatic care comes as a result of this movement. It is intriguing, how things work sometimes.

An interesting list, although as all such lists, it needs to remain somewhat open. Sunless Skies fulfills the second and third most easily, but it fails the first. This is simply because with the exception of the chosen player name and Her Renewed Majesty, Empress Victoria of Albion, Slayer of Suns, there are no names, only titles. 'Repentant Devil', 'Incognito Princess', 'Indurate Veteran', 'Inadvisably Big Dog', and so forth. They are all characters, but the Sunless games do not often 'do' proper names. It works better than it sounds, believe me.

True for most of the game, but there are exceptions in Fallen London and Sunless Sea: the three sisters at Hunter's Keep are Phoebe, Cyntia and Lucy; there's also Virginia, the deviless, F.F. Gebrandt, the chemist, and at some point, you can find out that Mrs. Plenty's first name is Miriam.

That is a very good point! I do feel very silly for forgetting the sister's names. Names are rare and valuable in the Neath, after all. It is a nice touch, I think, defining people by what they are, in a sense. When you do encounter a name, it is that much more significant.

Both lice and turds are difficult to illustrate, of course. Difficult to model in a game. And in most war stories, there would be little point. In a Big Serious War is Hell picture, most certainly worth trying to bring across. Less so in Where Eagles Dare, for instance. Or indeed Call of Duty. War as entertainment is a different question all together.

I don't know where or when it began, but it's not uncommon to see soldiers vomiting of stress and fear in contemporary movies. Which was not shown in the XX century films, I believe.
Well, I think Blackadder goes forth had several jokes about both lice and all the other poor hygiene in the trenches.

As for Sunless Skies, that is an interesting point, though I would say that an unique title that designates the owner as their own version counts as a form of name. My main reason for putting a name on 1 on my list was mainly because I've seen many games where female characters don't have any real names, but are just referred to as "player's girlfriend/wife", "a woman" or something generic like "the princess" or "evil queen".

ow! Pertinent to the topic, I just thought of something. I recently fell in mad love with the game ArmA III. However, it fails the test quite severely as it does not seem to feature any women at all, which is a most curious absence now that I see it.
Yeah, I think it says something about how society views women when I can think of many high-budget and high profile games that lack women entirely, but I can't really think of any games that feature a lot of women but no men unless it's some low budget waifu game aimed at straight guys. Even the games aimed exclusively at little girls I played as a kid used to feature men, often in the role of a mentor/father figure guiding the player.


WHAM

  • WHAMGAMES
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with play testing
    • I can help with scripting
    • I can help with story design
    • I can help with translating
    • I can help with voice acting
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Yeah, I think it says something about how society views women when I can think of many high-budget and high profile games that lack women entirely, but I can't really think of any games that feature a lot of women but no men unless it's some low budget waifu game aimed at straight guys. Even the games aimed exclusively at little girls I played as a kid used to feature men, often in the role of a mentor/father figure guiding the player.

I think the matter of having men everpresent in videogames stems from the nature of the vast majority of videogames in that they depict struggle, violence and adversity, which the player must overcome. Historically and culturally the professions of police, soldier and other potentially dangerous jobs and roles that are suited to face such adversity have been the lot of men, with arguments reasonably made that placing women in these roles often carries a greater potential risk to society in losing a precious childbearing mother rather than an easily replaceable male. This was definitely true in the past, of that I think there is little to argue over. Whether that still holds up in todays society, however, is an entirely different matter. The cultural background for the distinctly male role of low-value grunt idolized as hero overcoming odds, and the matronly female holding the fort and caring for the young, is solidly set and maintained for a variety of reasons ranging from ease of following tradition to preference among wider audience, along with experience among creators. Many are the creators of books, movies and games who are so set in their ways that it is an alien idea to them, that a female character might be as well defined and full of character as a male, when they are so used to depicting women as objects and trophies.

However, one could also argue that not placing more emphasis on women as protagonists, leaders and other key figures in games is oppressive and harmful, rather than protective and caring as I think the intention often is. Women are not excluded to spite them, but because it feels alien to many writers of stories to place them in such peril. Both ways can be seen as a negative, especially if handled clumsily and poorly. (See: Ubisoft claiming that including playable female characters, in a game where all player characters wear heavy robes, would be "double the work" and thus infeasible.)

I think this is a matter that will come down to cultural change over time, as well as the preferences of independent creators and audiences first. If those smaller and more independent creators and prove that audiences do enjoy games with a greater focus on strong and well fleshed out female characters, then the larger mainstream developers and publishers will eventually have to adopt the trend to remain viable and popular, or risk losing their market status and share.

One of my favourite kind of protagonist comes in games such as Myst. The protagonist has no name, no voice and no physical body. The games retain a full immersion in first person views, with NPC's regarding the player in neutral but natural terms, and the player gets to feel as though they are the protagonist of the story themselves, whatever their gender, appearance or other traits may be.

As for customizable protagonists in story heavy games, I feel it often results in protagonists that lack character or personality, even if voiced and animated well. The stories cannot really take gender into account in any way, if the player can be either male or female, or even a non-human race entirely, so stories have to be focused on other characters and events with the player reduced to a mere observer, around whom the story happens, regardless of who or what they are. A well defined protagonist, male or female, always trumps a customizable and ill defined one, when it comes to telling the story of that character.
Wrongthinker and anticitizen one. Pending removal to memory hole.

1. You should seriously stop bringing up reductive Evo-psych theories into every thread that brings up gender, and you're blatantly ignoring the fact that in many cultures, women were forbidden from carrying arms or learning how to fight, not as a sign of privilege but as a sign of their subordination, as oppressed groups like slaves, Jews, and serfs weren't allowed to carry arms either. And similar to arguments surrounding black and Jewish people, this kind of theorizing has been used to justify societal oppression and mask it as biology. Please just stop, and also, I suggest reading Klaus Theweleits's writings on male anxieties over fighting women and the pathological need to keep their women "pure".

2. Right from the start of video games, there have been games that aren't about war and fighting, but sports, exploration, and different kinds of job simulators. Plus in the 1980s, when gaming really started to take off, there were female action heroines like Ripley, Sarah Connor, various Bond girls, and Valeria from the Conan the Barbarian movie, so it's not like female soldiers or action heroes were unheard of or unacceptable to a mainstream audience.
Women are not excluded to spite them, but because it feels alien to many writers of stories to place them in such peril.
That's RIDICULOUS. I saw gamergate unfold when it started, and there were tons of guys complaining that games included female soldiers, even when they were in historically accurate situations, like female Russian scouts in Battlefield 1, or in contemporary/near-future settings like Call of Duty: Ghosts. Meanwhile, the exact same audience was fine with women portrayed as damsels who were kidnapped, murdered or violated to motivate male heroes to go on a revenge quest, or sometimes not even that, but just used as gritty set dressing, Red Deads Redemption even has an achievement for tying a female NPC to the railroad track.

Let's face it, a huge number of men are perfectly OK with women being tortured, hurt, and killed when they are portrayed as helpless damsels who need a man to protect or avenge them, and only bring up the white knight shtick about being queasy of violence against women when it's women portrayed as soldiers and warriors equal to the men.

Tolkien highlighted this male hypocrisy way back in the 1940s;
“And she answered: 'All your words are but to say: you are a woman, and your part is in the house. But when the men have died in battle and honour, you have leave to be burned in the house, for the men will need it no more. But I am of the House of Eorl and not a serving-woman. I can ride and wield blade, and I do not fear either pain or death.'

'What do you fear, lady?' he asked.

'A cage,' she said.”


And of course, this iconic line they kept in the movie;
'And those who have not swords can still die upon them.”


WHAM

  • WHAMGAMES
    • I can help with AGS tutoring
    • I can help with play testing
    • I can help with scripting
    • I can help with story design
    • I can help with translating
    • I can help with voice acting
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • WHAM worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
1. You should seriously stop bringing up reductive Evo-psych theories into every thread that brings up gender, and you're blatantly ignoring the fact that in many cultures, women were forbidden from carrying arms or learning how to fight, not as a sign of privilege but as a sign of their subordination, as oppressed groups like slaves, Jews, and serfs weren't allowed to carry arms either. And similar to arguments surrounding black and Jewish people, this kind of theorizing has been used to justify societal oppression and mask it as biology. Please just stop, and also, I suggest reading Klaus Theweleits's writings on male anxieties over fighting women and the pathological need to keep their women "pure".

If it smells like it makes sense, tastes like it makes sense, and looks like it makes sense: it probably makes sense. From the point of view of biology and evolution, preserving the females makes a lot of sense, and is a pattern we see all over the animal kingdom to this day. Why would you think humans are exempt from such basic rules?

Right from the start of video games, there have been games that aren't about war and fighting, but sports, exploration, and different kinds of job simulators. Plus in the 1980s, when gaming really started to take off, there were female action heroines like Ripley, Sarah Connor, various Bond girls, and Valeria from the Conan the Barbarian movie, so it's not like female soldiers or action heroes were unheard of or unacceptable to a mainstream audience.

True, simulation games have always existed, but they are limited as a genre in the fact that they are trying to simulate and represent the lived-in reality at the time, and most sports are male dominated and when attempts are made to focus on female sports, the audience isn't there, both in real world sports events and in video games. I guess here we can blame capitalism, combined again with millenia of tradition, for the unequal outcome. I can't recall any of my friends complaining of having to play Anna Kurnikova's Tennis as kids, despite the female focus. We didn't reject it, because it made sense.

..there were tons of guys complaining that games included female soldiers, even when they were in historically accurate situations, like female Russian scouts in Battlefield 1, or in contemporary/near-future settings like Call of Duty: Ghosts. Meanwhile, the exact same audience was fine with women portrayed as damsels who were kidnapped, murdered or violated to motivate male heroes to go on a revenge quest, or sometimes not even that, but just used as gritty set dressing, Red Deads Redemption even has an achievement for tying a female NPC to the railroad track.

You mean you saw a small group of angry people out of a population of millions complain loudly on the internet? Yes, that sounds about right, and happens with every issue. You keep repeating "a huge number of men", and in a way you are right, but saying that a large portion of people think X doesn't tell us much more than the fact that this is the underlying tradition and mindset of the societies these people come from. These ways of thinking are how we are raised as kids, by parents and schools and stories and movies and games and books. I agree that we can change that, hell I've made a game with a female protagonist and worked for years on a second one that fell through, but the fact of the matter is that no matter how much we preach that on the internet the change won't happen in a year, or ten years, or maybe even fifty. It will happen steadily, over time, as new generations replace the old, as new attitudes replace the old, and as long as content producers like ourselves continue to provide those options and views into what could be, rather than what has always been.
Wrongthinker and anticitizen one. Pending removal to memory hole.

Darth Mandarb

  • Evil Sith Lord
  • Mittens Vassal
  • AGS Baker
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • Darth Mandarb worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Darth Mandarb worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
Blondbraid - Are you suggesting that all entertainment (books, tv, movies, games, etc) should have to meet these standards you (and others) have created? Or are you saying they don't have to; you just wish more of them did so you, personally, could enjoy them more?

(forgive me if you've made this clear already but there's a lot of long posts in here and I have read things to suggest both answers)

1. You should seriously stop bringing up reductive Evo-psych theories into every thread that brings up gender, and you're blatantly ignoring the fact that in many cultures, women were forbidden from carrying arms or learning how to fight, not as a sign of privilege but as a sign of their subordination, as oppressed groups like slaves, Jews, and serfs weren't allowed to carry arms either. And similar to arguments surrounding black and Jewish people, this kind of theorizing has been used to justify societal oppression and mask it as biology. Please just stop, and also, I suggest reading Klaus Theweleits's writings on male anxieties over fighting women and the pathological need to keep their women "pure".

If it smells like it makes sense, tastes like it makes sense, and looks like it makes sense: it probably makes sense. From the point of view of biology and evolution, preserving the females makes a lot of sense, and is a pattern we see all over the animal kingdom to this day. Why would you think humans are exempt from such basic rules?
1. Because the "protect the females" mentality is non-existent in the animal kingdom. In some species, males will fight off other males, but it has nothing to do with protecting the lives of the females and is only about preventing other males from mating with them. I've yet to come across any example of a male animal protecting female animals from say, being eaten by a predator, or any similar danger. Some male animals will even straight-up fight any female animals of the same species just like they would a male outside the mating season. Seriously, where are these white-knight animals you bring up?

Societies with large-scale armies where you have lots of soldiers dying in great battles and women being expected to have large groups of children to sire future workers and soldiers is an incredibly recent development in human history.
I suggesting reading this text if you want a real reason as to why so many societies have excluded women from warfare.

2. Homophobes, slave owners, and Nazis have used exactly the same logic you use to institute eugenics and oppression of various groups, and it's no coincidence Umberto Eco listed misogyny and subordination of women as a sign of fascism. I've pointed this out to you before, what's not clicking?

Blondbraid - Are you suggesting that all entertainment (books, tv, movies, games, etc) should have to meet these standards you (and others) have created? Or are you saying they don't have to; you just wish more of them did so you, personally, could enjoy them more?

(forgive me if you've made this clear already but there's a lot of long posts in here and I have read things to suggest both answers)
I thought I'd already mention it, but I'll say it again: I don't think every single piece of media has to pass any such criteria, but I do think more should, and those that doesn't pass the criteria should have a good reason as to why.
For example, I think Master and Commander is a great film, although it fails the Bechdel test. However, the reason it fails the test is because the film takes place exclusively on a Napoleon-era warship and all the sailors are men,
so it makes sense as to why it doesn't feature women talking to one another. Meanwhile, there are films like Valerian and the city of a thousand planets that does feature several female characters, and takes place in a sci-fi world where anyone can have any role, but fails the test because the writer didn't think they had anything to contribute to the film other than supporting the stories of male characters, and that's a  bad reason to fail the Bechdel test.


Ali

  • What will become of the baron?
    • Ali worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Ali worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
If it smells like it makes sense, tastes like it makes sense, and looks like it makes sense: it probably makes sense. From the point of view of biology and evolution, preserving the females makes a lot of sense, and is a pattern we see all over the animal kingdom to this day. Why would you think humans are exempt from such basic rules?

I think this is a case of the naturalistic fallacy - the assertion that because some aspect of social order is natural (or, in this case, believed to be natural) it is both inescapable and good. Or if not good per se, preferable to any risky change to the social order. I've heard Jordan Peterson fans insist that disagreeing with Doctor P. about women is tantamount to denying that gravity exists.

Appeals to common sense and gut-feelings are always anti-intellectual. And, like Blondbraid says, this kind of argument has legitimised some of the most appalling injustices in history.
« Last Edit: 20 Jan 2021, 16:44 by Ali »

Darth Mandarb

  • Evil Sith Lord
  • Mittens Vassal
  • AGS Baker
    • Lifetime Achievement Award Winner
    • Darth Mandarb worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Darth Mandarb worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
I thought I'd already mention it, but I'll say it again: I don't think every single piece of media has to pass any such criteria, but I do think more should, and those that doesn't pass the criteria should have a good reason as to why.

So they aren't required to pass the test but they must have a good reason for failing it?

Who decides what constitutes a "good" reason for failing the test?

Ali

  • What will become of the baron?
    • Ali worked on one or more games that won an AGS Award!
    •  
    • Ali worked on one or more games that was nominated for an AGS Award!
So they aren't required to pass the test but they must have a good reason for failing it?

Required by whom? Blondbraid's not the censor-in-chief. The people talking about the Bechdel test are critics, not cultural dictators. I think Hollywood should stop making so many superhero films. That's not me threatening to ban them.