Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Birds & The Down B's: A Look at Women In Gaming

I can safely assume that you didn't even know of this article's existence. You want to know why you didn't? Because I thought that certain people could be mature enough to accept the words below and understand how important they were then and still are now. I made the mistake of because the Super DBZ & Street Fighter EX articles got so much love that I thought speaking on a real subject that truly matters would at least garner some attention. It didn't. I made the attempt to get this to you guys through the same outlet that those articles did and I have to assume that those people read it, saw I was telling the truth and didn't want the boat rocked. At this point in time fuck you, your boat, the water that keeps it afloat and you once again. I understood then what I understand more than ever now. Words are power. And for the most part I make sure not to be careless with it and use it responsibly. I use these words to open minds and uplift. Not close minds and bring people down. I have the belief that my words can change existence and rock it to its very core. And that's why I do it. If my words and actions can open the mind of one person then I know I'm doing the right thing. If this article is proof of anything is that I have plenty to say and I'm not scared to say it even if you happen to be. To get where we all need to be it'll take time but humanity can get there if we truly want to.

And I know you remember this gem from #SkuillgirlsWinningWeek some time ago. The PSA that made us think and laugh. Just remember the message is wrapped in the comedy. Skullgirls is an awesome game by an awesome group of folks and we as a community should stand by that. I want to shout out everybody at Lab Zero and wish them all well in all they do. I applaud your courageousness in the fight to keep an awesome game like Skullgirls alive. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!! 

So with no further ado let us discuss The Birds & The Down B's: A Look at Women In Gaming!

Originally this was just going to be huge ass reminder about picking up Skullgirls and the consequences if you didn't do so. The consequence being I'd come to your house with my Moe Moe Gangsta Edition Glock and put it to your head and make you. Regardless of all that the reason as a community you want to support the game regardless of your feelings are simply these. Mike Z is family and you support your family in their endeavors no matter how you feel or what you believe. Everybody involved in this wonderful masterpiece is putting their hearts and souls into this product and damn does it show every time I see it. So no matter what side of the fence you sit on when the game comes out, shower that love and say thanks to everybody involved. When I got to this point I started to see that looking at Skullgirls goes a whole lot deeper than the game itself and more of the feelings of those on the sidelines. And the more and more I thought about it the more and more I realized all the negative I was reading was just a rehash of every time I see women in gaming brought up. And this is what I plan to break you of today as I do always. To start thinking a bit more broader and a lot less closed-minded.

But where to begin. When it comes with games with girls that aren't so 101% wholesome some people back away and tense up for whatever reason. From what I read the reasons why some can't really handle the subject falls into 2 different catch-all categories. Embarrassment and just plain ignorance. So let's give embarrassment a go first. The embarrassment statement I see usually reads "If (Insert Name Here) sees me playing this what will they think of me?" When I think about it I can understand why people feel this way. To a degree. For some it's their belief system. For others it's a fear of losing respect from someone or disrespecting someone else. The flip side of this becomes more about you respecting yourself first. Understanding that it's perfectly OK with liking or indulging in something you enjoy. There are some things within that are just not the things you should be doing. It's up to you to know the difference. However, the question remains how do you break yourself of this? What you believe can be hard to break out of but it can be done. You just have to have yourself open enough to receive something new. It's not as easy as I'm laying it out to be but it can be done. You just have to want to break out of your shell and just do it. When it comes to the task of convincing others it can be bit difficult but that's a hurdle you can overcome too and sometimes you can bring them in on the fun as well. You just have to stand firm on the subject at hand. Not everybody will understand the things you do but you just have to make them respect it. Don't let what others do hold you back from doing what you enjoy. And if you have people like that around you then it might be time to take a look at those relationships really closely and reevaluate their meaning to you. Getting over embarrassment and the many pitfalls it presents is an arduous journey but well worth the trip. Don't let those fears stop you from enjoying something cool.

Well now that we've dealt with those embarrassed folks, let us now deal with those who happen to be short of open mindedness. Now I'm going to leave 2 statements here and I want you to read them both and think on it for a minute.

Statement 1: "Man, (Insert Gaming Genre Here) games suck!!!"

Statement 2: "I'm not going to play this game because it has a cast full of females!!"

Done thinking. Let's analyze. Now I wrote Statement 1 in very broad terms. That whatever person said this may or may not have had experience with whatever genre they think sucks. You can infer that that they may never touch that genre of gaming ever. Statement 2 on the other hand is a bit different because it simply infers that if it wasn't a cast full of females that this person may give that game a try under different circumstances. Statement 2 is an issue. I see this and varying versions of this same statement and this is a bad way to think especially if the game is within a genre you play regularly. What it says to me is that you're willing to miss out on something good because you don't agree with the choices made that have no gameplay implications at all. If this is you then this is something you need to break yourself from and ASAP. I can to extent say that some of the embarrassment catch all is at play here but sometimes it is about what you say and how you say it. You have to learn to be more open to things. People with mentalities like these let great things pass them by. We'll get into some of those things in a minute though. However, don't let something cool pass you because you have an issue with a cast of characters. It's just a bad look and makes you look bad too. Think about it. Really think about it.

Now that we've covered all of that, let's get into why this is even an issue to begin with. Let's start with a fact of nature. Women are human. Just as men are. But for some reason society however views women as the weaker sex. That is as far from truth as you can possibly get. Some of the strongest people I've ever had the pleasure of being around happen to be women. And when everything shakes out we're all still human first and that's how it should be but undoing 1000's of years of damage is something I can't do. But at least I can make the statement though. All the former is important to our subject because all those things feed into the thoughts and processes in how women in all facets of gaming are perceived. But what is the perception though? It ranges from misrepresentation to oversexualization and everything in between. The reason for the broad range of perception is because we ourselves are broad in our beliefs of what's right and wrong. What also comes from this same broad range is the perception of beauty from one person to the next. This is a huge lead in to what you happen to be presented with. Every single person has their perception of what beauty is and some are lucky enough to share that vision with others. And this is where the problems start. Not everybody sees things the exact same way. So what may be perfectly fine for you may not ring the same way with others. And people are very vocal from either side of the fence which then leads to more division. It does lead to the question of can that gap be closed. Now in my view it can be. More people just have to take a look at it from more than one side before making a final judgment. That's asking a lot of people in general but you can imagine how much of a difference it would make if we could. That is and will always be an individual choice. Just give it some thought is all I'm asking.

The question remains this. How do we proceed forward? Because this isn't going to be an issue that will disappear any time soon. Analysis of the past is one way. Understanding others is always a good idea. My favorite would have to be not to jump to conclusions. Lately, this one could've saved a lot of back and forth. I want to take some time to shout out Aris. Honestly, Cross Gate was stupid and he took the brunt of it because people need a story for their website. Which then follows up with people forgetting where they come from so that they can save face instead of holding down one of their own. Now I'm not saying rape is good however the FGC has been throwing that word around for years. Shout out to DEM STAIRS. We miss you. The point I'm making here is that people should do their research on the ins and outs of the FGC before making claims that aren't factual. Know what we call that in the hood? Actual journalism. Alex Ahad went through some of the same issues when it came to the look of Skullgirls. I for one commend him for standing up for his artistic vision when people blew that whole thing out of proportion. A panty shot is a panty shot. It isn't the end of the world. A panty shot may be the reason you even exist. Think about it. Tomonobu Itagaki had to deal with that same song for years because of the look of the ladies of Dead or Alive. He himself said that those girls are the definition of what beauty looks like to him. And he's free to have it because I got Hitomi out of the deal. Yosuke Hayashi, the new leader of Team Ninja is bringing the ladies of Dead or Alive back down to Earth as it were in 5 by making the females in the game look more like real women and this I have to applaud because it gives those who harped on it for perpetuating negative stereotypes about beauty one less thing to complain about.

But what about female characters in games? I gotta be honest. We've come a long way from Ms. Pac-Man that's for sure. When it comes to fighting games we have THA TRINITY. Chun Li is the strongest woman in world. She is known for those thighs though. Mai Shiranui is a ninja who fights for the glory of Nippon. However, when her name's brought up the attention is a bit more focused on her breasts. And Cammy White does her best work in a leotard. And we praise the cosplayers who have the courage to rock it. All jokes aside though when it comes to the three of them those character traits are parts of who they are and how we relate to them. What I'm saying with that is not all attention on the female form is or has to stay negative all the time. In contrast to that men don't get this much attention except every male protagonist looks like the same white man. When it comes to things like these people see what they want to see. A huge example of this is the portrayal of Samus Aran one of the Original Queens of Gaming in Metroid: Other M. She gained a huge share of detractors because according to a lot of people she set Women's Rights back a trillion years. My personal thoughts on the subject are the following. Samus kicked ass for years without as much of an actual utterance of anything that wasn't a recap or grunt until Metroid Fusion and then Other M came and shook that foundation of straight kick-assery that her character built over the years. But when people saw Samus embracing her emotions and taking "orders" now all of a sudden she's less of a kick-ass human being because of it. I for one applaud Yoshio Sakamoto for taking such a chance with a character like Samus. I feel that it was a way to see that because one kicks ass that it doesn't mean that they aren't allowed to be human and feel emotion. And the Adam thing as offensive as it came off to some was just a way to do the classic Square One reset approach and weave it into the narrative. When you look at like that it really isn't so bad now is it? We went through this when Bayonetta was making her rounds and Lollipop Chainsaw is getting it too with the portrayal of Juliet Starling. However, when it comes to those 2 games it is honestly genius at work by Hideki Kamiya and Goichi Suda for understanding that beauty and sex is the bow of the package and not the package itself. Lara Croft had the same issues for years. She was portrayed as a very headstrong woman but she happened to be well endowed in her chest area. And instead of focusing on the positive about her character and the gameplay in Tomb Raider it went straight to her looks and how that was teaching girls to reach to a standard of beauty that they themselves couldn't reach. But this issue didn't start with Chun-Li, Mai, Cammy, Bayonetta, Juilet Starling, Lara Croft or even in the realm of gaming. It will be a never ending struggle until each individual decides for themselves what true beauty means to them and how they decide to reach it. And people agree to disagree on that too. But what people do is their business and you just have to respect it. That word seems to be a running thing in this one but I'm not done with it yet.

Now when it comes to dealing with the opposite sex when we game or discuss gaming is when it happens to be ramped to a whole new level. To be honest with the fellas, some of you act like you never interacted with someone of the female persuasion before. And I can tell because you're trying way too hard. I can understand when a lady enters the room how your first instinct would be to go all Alpha Male and what not but this is something that you need to break away from if you have this issue. All the ladies want to do is game or conversate just like you're doing and not be given preferential treatment.  The simple solution is just make sure to respect others and always respect yourself. From what I hear most of them just want you to be you. Because if you can't be yourself then who can you ultimately be? It also comes to my attention that there are others who are just blatantly disrespectful. My advice to you is next time you want to say something out the way to a lady think about how you would feel if that was somebody you care about being talked to that way.  Like I've said this whole article is that women are human too. Treat them as such. The same goes for the ladies too. Just because you're a woman doesn't mean you're above respect for your fellow man. Respect is a 2 way street. If you give it, so shall you receive it. When it comes down to it this isn't an issue that will go away today or tomorrow. What we can do is sow the seeds of respect and tolerance today for a better tomorrow. Every step we take to respect ourselves, each other and our beliefs is one step closer for every one of us to be better people. And at the end of the day that should be the only thing we should truly strive for.

-Triple Da God

No comments:

Post a Comment