So something’s been really stickin in my craw lately. Enough to get me out of my posting hibernation even!
I really, really hate seeing female action characters running around in heels. It screams objectification to me and really just turns up the “HEY LADIES YOU CAN BE STRONG AND STUFF, BUT FIRST YOU GOTS TO BE SEXAY” message to 11. And it’s freaking everywhere right now.
Black Widow in the latest Cap Movie went into multiple situations where it was known before hand that the likelihood of seeing some action was very high. AND SHE STILL WORE HIGH HEELED BOOTS.
This is during the long action sequence in which she literally jumps off a bridge.
Comments Off on Breaking the Binary – Character Design in MMOs Part 2
Posted by Zaewen on August 12, 2013
The really beautiful thing about science fiction and fantasy is that it lets us explore ideas and circumstances different from our every day realities. They let us explore new places, meet new people, and live lives we could only dream of. It also lets us play with and push back on the ideas and values that our own society instills in us with heroic stories and epic sagas. And these stories are always at their absolute best when they make the alien familiar and the familiar alien to us, reflecting and refracting what we think we know. Our imagination is literally the limit when it comes to these kinds of story-telling.
So why then, in the vast majority of MMOs, the ultimate in interactive science fiction and fantasy story-telling, do we find ourselves meeting again and again races that are restricted to a gender and sex binary? And why is it always the same binary gender and sex system no matter if they are inter-galactic aliens, elves, dwarves, or beast races? Especially when we humans aren’t actually a binary species either?
Such tasty learning!
This lovely little gingerbread denizen is a wonderful way to illustrate just how non-binary humans are with respect to both sex and gender. And even more so how sex, gender identity, and gender expression are not necessarily all tied together. Humans come in all shapes, identities, and modes of expressing themselves. That this is not a more commonly known concept is not because its rare for humans to fall outside of the “masculine man in a male body” and “feminine woman in a female body” circles, but because the mainstream culture does not do a good job of representing anybody but those who fall squarely into those circles. And this lack of media representation is very harmful. It makes their plights easier to ignore, their existence easier to gloss over, and their humanity easier to attack. Which is exactly why interactive science fiction and fantasy games, like MMOs, should be pushing the boundaries of what we can collectively imagine as ourselves being. If we can create and relate to goblins and wolf-people and zombies, we can and should be able to create and relate to non-binary characters as well.
Comments Off on Depicting Gender: Character design in MMOs – Part 1
Posted by Zaewen on August 4, 2013
With the announcement of Everquest Next this weekend, I have been thinking a lot about how MMOs handle gender presentation in their character designs. Not that I don’t think a lot about this anyways, but I have been thinking about it in the context of how I really want to see a next gen MMO handle character design and customization. Character customization in games has always run the gamut from single player games like God of War with a single protagonist with a defined appearance and personality playing through a predetermined story line to games like SPORE where the player literally creates the character by taking them through the evolutionary path from single celled organisms to inter stellar system civilizations. For MMOs though, it’s all about creating you, or at least an avatar or character you dreamt up, and playing them within the world the game designers have built. That’s their bread and butter. All the raids, gear drops, quests, and class balancing that they’re always going on about are all just in service to that one idea: getting you, or the character you want to play, into their game world.
They said they were going to give you the choice between bikini armor and full coverage armor and maybe they will. But experience from every other game says this will not end well.
But what happens when the game design limits the player on who they’re allowed to be?
We know sexism exists, even if we aren’t willing to admit to its presence in our own lives, and the evidence of it is in nearly every nook and cranny of our collective civilization. But how did that whole sexism thing get started? Are humans just inherently sexist?
Well if you ask most evolutionary psychologists, they’ll tell you the answer to the last question is yes, because men are bigger and stronger than women and so, bam just like that, sexism is a fact of life for humans and has been in existence since before humans were human. Which is why you should never ask a evo psychologist that question, because their answer is seriously misogynist, cis-sexist, and a completely revisionist view of our species’ history. Read more of this post
The last few days I have been nigh on obsessively watching this. It’s an amazing, pitch perfect parody of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance that celebrates the Woman’s Suffrage movement and its perfectly timed for International Women’s Day and Women’s History Month. Frankly, though, I think the reason I keep coming back to it, aside from it’s catchy lyrics (“I wanna wear pants!”), is that during this horrific political zeitgeist we’ve got right now, I really do need to see something that is joyously and wholeheartedly celebrating women’s fight for their rights and freedoms.