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Thread: The RPG Sanctum - #6:Sexism in RPGs

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    Host of The Sectorcast Rosestorm's Avatar
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    The RPG Sanctum - #6:Sexism in RPGs

    Have you ever thought that RPGs were sexist, just ever so much? In this episode, our panel will examine such fascinating subjects as Miranda's butt in ME2, and the clothing mechanic of The 3rd Birthday. It is also slightly possible that the Ar Tonelico games will be mentioned in passing.

    Listen: http://www.rpgamer.com/rpgsanctum/sanctum06.mp3
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    Be sure to leave any feedback for us on this thread and leave some reviews on itunes. The next show topic is the optimum length for RPGs, how short is to short, how long is to long. If you want to submit content, e-mail me a mp3 file to rosestorm90@gmail.com, if you need instructions on how to make one e-mail me and I will be more than willing to help. If you have any ideas for future shows topics or formats ideas feel free to post them here or e-mail me.
    Last edited by Rosestorm; 04-05-2011 at 02:19 PM.
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    Staff Girly Girl RPGamer Staff Nyx's Avatar
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    FYI: There be massive spoilers for Ar tonelico Qoga and the 3rd Birthday here. If you don't want to be spoiled, DON'T LISTEN!

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    Familiar Face Administrator Strawberry Eggs's Avatar
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    I do apologize for not speaking up much in this episode. It wasn't because the others monopolized the time or anything. Since the elephants in the room (3rd Birthday and Ar Tonelico) were addressed right off the bat, I felt silly dialing it down to something more mundane, like the lack of main female protagonists in JRPGs or the like. My Internet connection was also misbehaving.

    Though I do want to mention a little more about Pokémon Black White and the apparent gender roles there. While Bianca may be more emotional, for the large part, I think the Pokémon series has been good about equality between the sexes, especially in recent title.Black and White, after all, introduced the first female professor, Prof. Juniper. Half of the Gym Leaders of female (in White, Black has Drayden), as are half of the Elite Four. Heck, the second Gym Leader Lenora is not only a black woman, but both a Gym Leader, archaeologist, and the director of the Nacrene Museum. The last generation also saw the first female Champion, Cynthia who is still perhaps the toughest in any of the games. The Leaders have been split 50-50 since Hoenn, and the Elite four is usually also 50-50.

    This is certainly better than the first two generations. You couldn't choose a female characters until Crystal, and there were only three female Gym Leaders in both Kanto and Johto. Though I have to wonder if part of the reason for the increase in important female characters is to more appeal to Westerners.


    ...I wish I'd thought of this last night...Regardless, I'll be sure to talk more next time I'm on!
    Last edited by Strawberry Eggs; 04-04-2011 at 04:26 PM.
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    It's depressing to admit this, but I believe that video games as a whole can be cynically described as "fanboys creating and marketing games for fanboys." The same can be said for many movies, and a lot of comic books. But at the same time, we have decades of movies in English aimed at women, and since the 90s, there has been a slow increase in comics for women (especially webcomics, translated shoujo, josei, and BL manga). I believe that video games regardless of genre are slowly emerging from their "no girls allowed" history.

    No matter how far you look back into video game history, you can find countless examples of games that cater to the interests of guys. Twenty years ago, the core demographic was boys whose parents could afford to buy video games. These days, I think the core demographic includes teen guys and men... people who can afford to buy the latest serious business sports game / FPS / action game.

    In terms of how women are portrayed in video games, the lucky fictional characters are women who can fight, and wear reasonable clothes. Every now and then there's a female lead who isn't even sexy (such as Alis from Phantasy Star 1, Cornet from Rhapsody, and the main character in Atelier Annie). The typical fictional woman used to be a girl who needed rescuing, or a relatively weak support character. Until maybe the Playstation era, video game women weren't typically sexy in western games... except for box art and posters. These days, you can find all kinds of sleaze in M-rated games.

    Slowly, the "fanboys only" trend is changing, as companies and creators have tried to make games for people outside the core male demographic. I can't honestly say that they've always succeeded. For instance, the DS game Super Princess Peach is not meant to be taken seriously, but it's rather embarrassing... And generally speaking, games aimed at young girls don't get much development money or press, and are usually relegated to bargain bins.

    The adage "sex sells" is distressingly true in all forms of entertainment. So if you want more tasteful, well-written video games that don't go out of their way to pander, you have to look for them. Likewise, "money talks" is depressingly true. So if you want more games that aren't absurdly sexist, you would be wise to purchase them. (I'm trying to think of a few that are still in print... if you like PC/Mac indie games, then consider supporting Spirited Heart or perhaps the Vera Blanc series.)

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    Under watcher LordKaiser's Avatar
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    Well in old RPGs females where only mages and the principal woman that often was the love interest also was in that time weak healers. But now we had females using more weapons etc. etc. like Rachel from Wild Arms 4 who also happened to be covered up. Do you women see fan service targeted to males as sexism?
    Never buy a game published by D3 Publisher that is not WKCII. They cheated on their fans by releasing a game that they didn't support not even for a year and they released a rushed translation.

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    A Witness to Destruction Moderator DarkRPGMaster's Avatar
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    That's a good question Kaiser, I'm wondering that now too. Also, how do you women feel about all the guys set up for women to like?

    EDIT: About Maeda acting like he did...well, he was obsessed with her mitochondria in PE1 right? Well, it seems to be the same kind of obsession here to me.

    I do agree about the out of ammo sound though...personally I think she should have just gone "Sh**!" Also, I noticed how you didn't mention how badass she became after Episode 2. After that episode, I actually liked her just as much as I did in PE1 and PE2.

    One last note...you didn't mention how hard it is to completely destroy her clothing. Over the course of the game I only saw it once. Then again, it could be that I'm somewhat skilled, and that I repaired the clothes the second I could.
    Last edited by DarkRPGMaster; 04-04-2011 at 05:33 PM. Reason: Added comments on the audio.

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    Gunclaws and Meow. Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LordKaiser View Post
    Well in old RPGs females where only mages and the principal woman that often was the love interest also was in that time weak healers. But now we had females using more weapons etc. etc. like Rachel from Wild Arms 4 who also happened to be covered up.
    Here's the thing though -- archetypal roles which put women in a healing capacity aren't that far off from the truth. In MMORPGs, we see over and over again female players tend to gravitate towards healer and ranged DPS roles -- finding a girl as a main tank or a melee class like a rogue is far less prevalent.

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    Kirby: El Presidente RPGamer Staff noodle's Avatar
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    *looks at her beastmaster in FFXI*

    *whistles innocently, pushing her main job white mage under the rug*

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    Under watcher LordKaiser's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paws View Post
    Here's the thing though -- archetypal roles which put women in a healing capacity aren't that far off from the truth. In MMORPGs, we see over and over again female players tend to gravitate towards healer and ranged DPS roles -- finding a girl as a main tank or a melee class like a rogue is far less prevalent.
    You mean female gamers or female avatars? Because most of them are males at least that was my experience in WKC.
    Never buy a game published by D3 Publisher that is not WKCII. They cheated on their fans by releasing a game that they didn't support not even for a year and they released a rushed translation.

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    Gunclaws and Meow. Administrator Paws's Avatar
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    Right, I'm not saying "every chick lolheals" -- I played a tank (male human paladin) for a couple years in WoW. Also, I mean female players.

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    A Witness to Destruction Moderator DarkRPGMaster's Avatar
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    Oddly enough, I notice alot of female stealth classes. I guess that's why they're able to steal your soul...they sneak their way in.

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    is not declawed RPGamer Staff Ocelot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Paws View Post
    Here's the thing though -- archetypal roles which put women in a healing capacity aren't that far off from the truth. In MMORPGs, we see over and over again female players tend to gravitate towards healer and ranged DPS roles -- finding a girl as a main tank or a melee class like a rogue is far less prevalent.
    Studies on why this is, however, show that it's not necessarily that women pick healers because they naturally prefer that role, although a certain percentage of female healers do so. A lot of women are introduced to MMORPGs by male partners, who take a "lead" DPS/tank role and ask their wife/girlfriend to play a healer. I don't think anybody's done a statistical analysis separating women who are lifelong gamers or who discovered MMORPGs on their own from women who were introduced by male partners, but I'd love to see those results. Just from what I've seen personally, I suspect you'll see a more even spread of classes in that group of women. (Interestingly, there are 5 women in my 12 person WoW raid roster. We play a paladin tank, druid tank/DPS caster, shaman healer, priest healer/DPS caster, and rogue. That's a very even role spread, but we're also an older/more independent group of women.)

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    複線ドリフト!! RPGamer Staff Quin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocelot View Post
    Studies on why this is, however, show that it's not necessarily that women pick healers because they naturally prefer that role, although a certain percentage of female healers do so. A lot of women are introduced to MMORPGs by male partners, who take a "lead" DPS/tank role and ask their wife/girlfriend to play a healer. I don't think anybody's done a statistical analysis separating women who are lifelong gamers or who discovered MMORPGs on their own from women who were introduced by male partners, but I'd love to see those results. Just from what I've seen personally, I suspect you'll see a more even spread of classes in that group of women. (Interestingly, there are 5 women in my 12 person WoW raid roster. We play a paladin tank, druid tank/DPS caster, shaman healer, priest healer/DPS caster, and rogue. That's a very even role spread, but we're also an older/more independent group of women.)
    Hmmmm, if I can't carry out my current study for my final year project, this sounds like a good alternative. Thanks, Oce.

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    One Knight Stand Spartakus's Avatar
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    It seems a boorish, puritanical criticism that women in games are too attractive and I would say the same for men. If you have an imaginary world of your creation there is no reason not to have idealized, beautiful and sexy characters of all genders. On the contrary, I'd rather play a game with unrealistically attractive characters than realistically ugly ones, and it seems most consumers agree. Aesthetics are an essential part in the enjoyment of all creative expressions. That anyone could feel threatened by the appearance of a fictional character can only mean that person has serious confidence issues that should be adressed before he/she starts worrying about anything else. I don't see this as chauvinism either; both men and women want to look attractive and be desired. If someone has the body to pull off a skimpy outfit I say good for them. If you don't - like me - it doesn't mean you can't enjoy beauty in others or revel in pretending you're attractive too for a little while.
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  15. #15
    Women and men are completely different from each other even in real life. It is foolish to think that they are equal and just "displayed" unequal in games.

    Also I like my games being designed so that I enjoy them and not so that they represent reality well. Girls taking off/losing their clothes is simply "yay", but it doesn't cause me to ask my girlfriend to take off her clothes to see if that makes her power increase.
    Last edited by Rya.Reisender; 04-05-2011 at 06:21 AM.

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    is not declawed RPGamer Staff Ocelot's Avatar
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    Those of us who are sick and tired of female characters in chainmail bikinis aren't tired of them because they're "too attractive" or because we have a problem with sex or sexuality. For me, it's a problem of characterization. Female characters in ridiculously skimpy outfits tend to be placed in games primarily as sexualized objects rather than strong characters in their own right. Even if they have been given a half-decent story and a decent personality, the way they're dressed tends to undermine that personality. There are occasional characters, like Kainé in Nier, where it works, but usually female characters who prance around wearing high heels and being barely dressed tend to stretch the willing suspension of disbelief beyond the breaking point.

    Not to mention that lack of clothing doesn't necessarily equal sexiness. I personally (as a bi woman) find it far more attractive to see a woman who dresses confidently and in a way that works for who she is than who inappropriately dresses like a stripper. I know a good number of hetero men who feel the same way about both real and fictional women. Overall, wanting a woman who dresses for her personality and role in an RPG is just a natural part of my desire to see quality female characters in game. I think it's a pretty simple set of criteria that improves the general quality of a game if followed:

    1. Female (party member-type) characters should have a primary reason to be involved in a game that doesn't involve being the love interest/rescued damsel for male characters. They should have their own story and motivation for being invovled in the adventure.

    2. Female characters should be dressed in a way that makes sense for their personality and the world in which they live. If the male characters with similar roles aren't half-naked, the female characters shouldn't be, either. This doesn't mean they shouldn't be attractive, it means their outfits should add to the development of the game world and the character. It's called quality game design.

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  17. #17
    is not declawed RPGamer Staff Ocelot's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rya.Reisender View Post
    Women are men are completely different from each other even in real life. It is foolish to think that they are equal and just "displayed" unequal in games.
    Man, we're really not that different. We as a society have a tendency to overstate the differences between the genders, generally in a way that is detrimental to the ability of women to achieve their life goals (though not always... I dislike it when women get together and laugh at how "stupid" men are just as much as I dislike that kind of thing from men.)

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    will there be an rss feed for the show in the future? since i dont have itunes, rss is the bestway for me to catch up on latest content

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    Ysy St. Administrator Macstorm's Avatar
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    Host of The Sectorcast Rosestorm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Macstorm View Post
    There is the link to my rss feed, I hope it helps
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