That just happened.
That feeling when you catch a glimpse of one of the reasons your $40 million game has poor sales, poor reviews, and more youtube ridicule than any other game in the last 5-10 years…
Well, here we can see the issue quite clearly. The female character was deemed “too pretty” and rather than leave her that way and risk upsetting gamers (who are offended by attractive characters?) they decided to turn her into what can only be described as a giant albino smurf. So after the disastrous fallout (for many very good reasons as well as the cosmetic ones) perhaps Bioware learned its lesson with Mass Effect Andromeda? Or perhaps it’s too late for that now that parent company EA is breaking up Bioware Montreal and pushing their next game back by over a year for no particular reason.
So alas, I gotta say it’s looking pretty official now- social justice gaming is the hill Bioware decided to die on.
The Akuun’Dur continue to take center stage here… below you will see an example of their dark alien fleet after having annihilated a planet, as well as the Akuun’Dur ‘whisper’, a dreaded mind invading entity that aims to sow fear and dread into the heart of humanity. The third picture is a massive Morarch- the dreaded world-consuming Akuun’Dur engines, invading the sky of a vulnerable planet, and unleashing the “black tide” that will coat the planet in a living layer of dark sludge.
Identity politics surround us these days, and gender politics is one of the larger branches, but growing up outrageously geeky myself there are a few things that stick out when I see feminist/social justice critiques of gaming or geek culture, and how men treat women therein.
- I’ve never met the guys they are describing, in almost 40 years of active geekiness. The popular PC blogger narrative is that men have a vast, insular geek culture that amounts to a “no girls allowed” club, and that women who are interested in their hobby are often quizzed or tested to establish their geek credentials, and then maybe, perhaps grudgingly, let in.
Now here’s the problem: In the real world men and boys who are geeks are probably the complete opposite of that. As a kid, as a teen, as an adult, my reaction to women passionate about fantasy/sci-fi/geekdom has always been the same: OMG she’s a rock star. We LOVE women who share our passion for these things, and I would bet secretly every geeky guy wants to marry one.
2. Passion speaks for itself. Women who rail about how women are treated in the game industry tend to NOT BE GAMERS IN THE FIRST PLACE. It is the classic critical fallacy- peering in from the outside on ANY activity that tends to be male dominated (which in the case of geeks/gamers isn’t even accurate with half of gamers being women), and pronouncing judgment AS IF you yourself were in the know and part of this culture- when in fact you’re interested in the politics far more than the hobby. This type of critique is no different from food critics who don’t like food, or a film review where the author couldn’t be bothered to finish the movie.
Passion for fantasy/sci-fi/video games is its own reward, and millions of people (male and female) understand this. It is its own private paradise, something you can scarcely even put into words except around people who are passionate about the same things. So my heart goes out to any woman (or man) who feels the need to tow the line and talk about how sexist gamers and geeks can be… because it sounds to me like they don’t know any. Geekdom is probably the most inclusive lifestyle there is, and we welcome all comers- all you need is an irrational obsession with your geek poison of choice- be it anime, Star Wars, Harry Potter, World of Warcraft, cosplay, Magic cards, Doctor Who or anything in between. You don’t need to be a certain gender to meet peers who have the same geeky love you do, all you need is the interest. And if you bring that, they’ll love you for it. I promise.
So Mass Effect Andromeda has just come out for PC and consoles, and the female characters have been deliberately made to look “uglier” than the models they were inspired by, while the male characters are dead ringers for their model motion capture actors, and still as hunky as hell. In the annals of game industry mistakes this one is just flat out bizarre; not only out of touch with the bottom line, but out of touch with what real gamers (male AND female) would prefer. Mass Effect games have always featured customization tools which would allow a player to modify a character’s appearance and make them as ugly as they like; but now that ugly appearance is mandatory- unless of course you play the male character who is still dashing.
This strikes me as backwardly sexist against women; ugly protagonists in adventure stories (especially high fantasy and science fiction) are generally not what people want to see to begin with- so forcing female characters to be uglier than most REAL young women you might see in the world is a very poor choice. On top of this the game has emotionless expressions and facial animation that looks 15 years old. Is this is what happens when a game studio hires highly political writers who have never worked in the industry?
Massive update for my Coredawn content on this blog. For those unfamiliar Coredawn is the closest thing I would describe as my life’s work. I am determined to turn it into games, TV series, movies, novels, or all of the above. Out of all the content I’ve created for Coredawn over the last 20 years there’s just a small fraction online here, but it’s a start!
Most people have always found the claim ridiculous, but video games are “hippest” leisure activity to criticize these days and so it bears repeating: Violent PEOPLE are violent, and video games have absolutely nothing to do with it.
Here’s the latest study; it’s time public discussion of video games returned to things like entertainment value and story.
So there’s 155 million active gamers in the US now. It’s safe to say the hobby is here to stay- and in fact it has eclipsed all other hobbies in every measurable way. Let’s hope the trend continues, and 2016 proves to be an even better year for beautiful and varied interactive entertainment than 2015
BBC published an article detailing the experience of ‘TotalBiscuit’ an online game pundit who stood with #GamerGate out of loyalty to their original brand- the idea that journalism in gaming is corrupt and it had drifted away from consumer focus as an industry.
His ‘Social Justice’ detractors came at him with an avalanche of inhuman threats worthy of any bombarded feminist. This story illustrates how hatred for those you disagree with can come from anywhere, and the idea that we can bottle online bullying and sell it as something that only comes from privileged white men is as absurd as it is dangerous.