Saturday, June 16, 2012

Defenders of male imagery in gaming strike back

So, some of the people who took exception (let's call it that) to Anita Sarkeesian's "Tropes vs. Women" Kickstarter project-- which has now been officially funded, to the final tune of $158, 917-- have started a project of their own. It's going to be another web video series, called "An analysis of male roles and misandry present in modern video game media" and hosted at Indiegogo rather than Kickstarter (I don't know why they made that choice exactly, but was interested to learn of another fundraising site with slightly looser rules about what kind of projects are allowed. So far as I can tell though, theirs would've fit Kickstarter's rules just as well.)

I'm interested. How could I not be? Misandry's a real thing. Distorted, harmful stereotypes of men are a real thing. And they exist in video games, no doubt.

What's the problem? Well...I watched the Google doc discussion in which this project was originally planned on Wednesday. So did Kirk Hamilton of Kotaku, apparently, which resulted in this article-- and in the document eventually being deleted and replaced with a message to Kotaku notifying them that their journalism sucks (sorry, "sux), accompanied by a couple of bukkake pics which detracted slightly from the stated mission of fair and honest analysis of sexual stereotypes. The Indiegogo page explains:
In regards to the article in Kotaku that (voluntarily or not) attempted to disproved [sic] our credibility and undermine the project: the Google document that was flying around was, indeed, originally a way for the project leads to coordinate what the project was going to be about - for transparency, we left our document open for anyone to view and edit: A terrible mistake when the link was leaked in a group chat of 100+ people! As soon as we found out (as we were well beyond the stage of using the Google doc) the document was removed post-haste after being heavily vandalized with porn gifs - although, too late, somebody had tipped off Kotaku about it. We apologise deeply for the situation.

Here's the thing-- I don't know for sure and so can't say, but I'm just guessing that Sarkeesian's project is going to include some discussion of male tropes as well, because male and female tropes tend to show up together. You know, because the male power fantasy and the female sexual fantasy kind of depend on each other. I'm guessing that her project is called "Tropes vs. Women" and not "Sexist Tropes" because she thinks the ones about women are more harmful, not to deny that tropes about men exist. The statement of intent for the new, male-trope-specific project reads:
With the recent boom of indie game developers, videogames have become easier and easier to produce, something that used to take years and millions of dollars can be done with a zero budget in a matter of days with the same cultural impact and mainstream audience potential. So what happens when such a morally unrestricted form of entertainment starts accidentally spreading the wrong values?  
This video project will attempt to shed some light on the tremendous lack of variety in male character design, and how detrimental this becomes to a blossoming society that is growing accustomed to video games as a very real part of their lives. Such stale and stagnant design clashes vividly with the rainbow of personalities that are so abundant in real life, and seeing as how the hardware necessary has been available for a good few years, isn’t it about time that video games reflected the diversity of their audience?
Yes! Yes, it's about time. And frankly I'd love to hear suggestions about how this can be accomplished, about the "rainbow of personalities" currently missing in male video game characters that really should be depicted. Also presumably a rainbow of physical appearances, but that wasn't mentioned.

It's just...well, this isn't the most confidence-inspiring launch for such a project. It looks, on the face of it, like a bunch of dismissing, deflecting, and derailing. But I'd be happy to be mistaken about that.

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