Waffle Bites: Women Characters in Gaming

March 14, 2015 Waffling Around Games Comments (3) 22

In honor of March being National Women’s Month, we are releasing a series of short podcasts, “waffle bites” if you will, to celebrate women in gaming. For our first Waffle Bite, we explore female characters that have personally made an impact on us.

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Jason Aaron identifies as Feminist, sells us on new Female Thor

July 30, 2014 Articles, Comic Books Comments (1) 20

When news of the female Thor first broke out (via the View of all places) I was more than a bit hesitant. After all, I had just gotten my hopes up for the new Wonder Woman creative team and then had them blown to bits. Luckily, Jason Aaron just did an interview with NPR that might offer comfort to those wondering if the new female Thor is just a publicity stunt.

According to Aaron, he’s been planning the story about Thor becoming unworthy of Mjolnir for some time. When looking for Thor’s replacement, the idea of a woman taking up Thor’s mantle seemed like a natural step.

“It’s not like we sat around and threw a dart on the wall to change the gender of a character,” said Aaron. “This was my idea. This wasn’t Marvel coming to me. This isn’t me throwing away what I’ve been doing.”

Instead, this is a natural progression in the Thor narrative. Jason Aaron has been writing Thor since 2012, and has great plans for the future of our mysterious girl Thor. For those of us (myself included) that are worried that the hammer will simply pass back to it’s original owner after a time, Aaron has other plans. He’s been working with other writers and artists to plan female Thor’s future at Marvel, mentioning that he’d “…love to do a Thor, Spiderwoman series.”

If that wasn’t enough evidence that he understands what fans might want of a female Thor, Aaron is completely comfortable using the word “feminist”.

“I’m not one of those people that think feminist is a bad word. I don’t see why everyone shouldn’t be a feminist.”

My sentiments exactly.

The interview still doesn’t answer pressing questions like which female character is going to take up the mythic hammer (I would reeaally like to be able to stop referring to her as “female Thor”) or what kind of challenges the new heroine might deal with.

Still, Aaron (and all the amazing ladies cosplaying the new Thor) has set my mind at ease. Regardless of whether or not I end up liking the storyline, I’m at least confident the character is in good (and feminist!) hands.

Plus, even Chris Hemsworth is on board!

 

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Polymorphously Perverse: One Man's Experience Playing a Sex Video Game (and other news)

July 30, 2012 Leading Lady Links Comments (0) 23

Welcome to the Weekly Roundup where I pull together all the news involving women and gaming so you don’t have to! In the past week there have been quite a few interesting articles dealing with gender, race, and sexuality so I’m going to divide this roundup into two posts, one today and one tomorrow (I also have a paper due this week so I don’t have quite as much time to devote to posting as normal).

Adam Miller wrote an article last week entitled ‘The Sex Video Game Polymorphous Perversity Made Me Question My Identity”. The article can be accessed here via Kotaku or here on Miller’s site Clever Musings. For those of you unfamiliar with the game Polymorphouse Perversity it is an indie game created by Nicolau Chaud dealing with the Freuding concept of polymorphous perversity, the idea that infants sexually desire everyone and everything before they are taught proper modes of sexuality. A previous article on Kotaku explains:

The premise of the game is straightforward: you’d be a young guy with a sexual disorder who stumbles onto a world where everything is about sex. Instead of saving the world, you’d go on an adventure to ‘discover your sexuality.’ It’d be an RPG, only without battles in the traditional sense—you’d be fucking people (who can give you STDs as status ailments), and your performance is graded afterward.

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Miller’s embarked on his adventure with the game in an attempt to explore the connections between psychology and libido, appropriate goals considering game-maker Chaud has a history in psychology. As Miller played the game, he quickly realized how problematic it was. While at first the turn-based comment that featured “fuck” as an attack was merely discomforting, the game’s portrayal of transsexual’s particularly disturbed Miller. In-game they were labeled as “trannys” a term most transsexuals find offensive.  Miller points out that

Worse, the transsexuals have very demeaning dialogue; transsexuals in this game are presented as sex predators because of it. They all sound like men during sex. You get HPV after being penetrated by them. Doesn’t all of this convey a rather narrow worldview?

Instead of encouraging a player to explore sexuality, the game merely encourages the player to direct a male character to “fuck” everything in site or risk dying through depletion of the “horny meter”. Wonderful game right? While the game seems less like an exploration of sexuality and more like male fantasy,the portrayal of transsexuals within the game stirred in him some emotions that he had suppressed for some time, namely that he was not happy with the sex assigned to him at birth.  This is a brave admission in light of how the gaming community usually reacts towards discussions of sexuality and gender. The comments are particularly delightful, one commenter saying

Having Adam review this game is like having an Iraq veteran suffering from PTSD review Modern Warfare 3. What are you THINKING, Kotaku? Did you put ANY thought into this? Why was a game that was created thoughtfully by a sexually active straight adult male reviewed by a VERY sexually confused virgin?

So basically, a straight white male should probably review every game because that’s typically the target audience right? Luckily many other commenters were supportive of Millerss admission of sexual confusion. I think some of Miller’s comments of the game are still very apt:

I don’t know if I’m happier identifying as a man or a woman. I don’t know if I’m hetero-, homo-, bi-, or pansexual. What I do know is what I’m taking away from playing Polymorphous Perversity: it’s okay to be yourself, just as long as you’re a sexually overactive male without decency or standards. Everyone else should be ashamed of themselves, including me.

So, if you are a straight, white, cis-male go play Polymorphous Perversity and have fun validating your sexuality! For everyone else (myself included), I’m going to recommend ignoring the game unless you’re using it as evidence of continued misogyny in video games.

Continuing with our apparent theme of gender and sex confusion, according to this article by Owen good, the Minecraft guy is supposed to be gender neutral.

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While the default character skin has a goatee and is often considered male, most creatures in Minecraft are supposed to be either gender neutral, or portray traits from both genders. According to creator Markus “Notch” Perrson :

All other living things in the game are genderless, if not exhibiting the traits of both genders. “The chicken/duck/whatevers have heads that look like roosters, but still lay eggs,” he says. Cows have both horns and udders

One of the things that allows Minecraft to designate living creatures as one gender is the pixelated graphics of the game. The graphics don’t allow for must distinction of gender, so Notch made everything one gender so that gamers wouldn’t have to worry about it. Clearly gamers have created new skins designed to create the illusion of different genders for the base human model, but on a basic level, every living thing in Minecraft is monosexed. Take that gender binaries!.

I feel like discussing gender binaries is a good segue into feminism! I identify as a feminist personally, which you could probably tell from my previous articles. Jenn Frank wrote an excellent article last week (okay okay it’s been two weeks but I missed it for last week’s roundup) called “I was a Teenage Sexist” In the article Frank deals with her journey of being a woman in misogynist culture, and how she finally realized feminism was for her. This is a great article, but rather long, so here were some of the highlights of the article for me:

Instead, feminism – and other types of social justice, I figure – acknowledges that there is an invisible pattern of experience that comes along with being, very visibly, something else.

You don’t have to think of ladies as “victims” – I’d prefer you didn’t – and you don’t even have to think of some experiences as “baggage.”

But feminism does ask you, as an ethical human being, to objectively reexamine certain standards of behavior, which themselves are often based on an internalized, invisible set of shared beliefs and values.

Feminism isn’t about holding another sex in higher esteem than the male sex. Rather, it’s about anti-sexism.

It’s about making sure your child doesn’t grow up believing she is somehow subhuman.

And if someone ever makes your child feel like he or she deserves abuse, you better hope that kid is confident and surefooted enough to fight back.

Again, I would recommend reading the whole article, especially if you’re on the fence about your feelings of feminism. Frank does a good job of examining why feminism can be hard to embrace for many women, but why she feels (and I agree) it’s so important.

So those are some of the interesting articles that surfaced last week, I’ll continue to point out more articles tomorrow as I continue the Weekly Roundup!

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