This is the same gorgeously animated, acclaimed franchise that devotes an entire subset of game play to tree-climbing. Swinging from limb to limb high above the incredibly detailed world? High on the priority list of Assassin’s Creed features. Putting a single woman into an active role in the game? Nah.
This is the same studio that employed a visual effects team of over 40 people in order to design the unique properties of snowflakes. Literally, the women of Tangled and Frozen were less distinguishable to Disney animation software than a pile of snow.
The tangle of issues and layers of sexism that contribute to this situation is overwhelming, but at the core is the fundamentally flawed way women are portrayed in comics, animation, and gaming: a feedback loop of sexual objectification and industry complacence.
When you perpetuate the idea, across various art-based mediums, that women in drawn art, comics, and animation must and should look and move with flowy, exaggerated gestures, graceful movements, and hips, chest, and ass thrust forward in order to pander to the male gaze at all times, then you make it easier, later on, to use your own sexist animation and art standards as an excuse for why you don’t have more women.
We take you on a visual walk-through of the gaming industry and animation culture’s resistance to making women look, act, and move like human beings.
Important and potent.
The Civilization series of strategy epics is one of the great wonders of gaming.
Sid Meier’s map-based tech-chasers and military sims pull together science, history, fun and competition to create games, like Civilization 5, that fold humanity’s technological achievements into our deepest desires for domination and power.
Sid Meier’s Civilization: Beyond Earth is the natural extension of a series of games that begin in a pre-agricultural age, pulling the player right up to intergalactic travel. It is the story of what happens when humanity ventures out towards new planets.
Game Development Myths: Multiplayer Takes Away from Single Player (part 2 of 2)
This is actually part two of a two-part series. The first part addresses what happens when a game is first planned, and how changes affect the overall process at various points during development. This post, however, will tackle the other aspect - Does adding multiplayer to a project actually take resources away from the single player development?
The answer to this is, as usual, “Not usually, but sometimes.”
The ESA has released its annual report on the state of gaming, and there are some pretty interesting bits of data in there.
Things that stood out to me:
- Women over the age of 18 represent over double the market share of boys 18 and younger.
- Women aged 50 and older who play games have increased by 32% from 2012 to 2013
- Frequent Game Purchasers are divided cleanly down the middle in terms of gender - 50/50 exactly.
- Casual and Social games are still growing the fastest and aren’t going anywhere.
- 95% of parents pay attention to the games their kids play, and 58% play games with their kids
- Game sales growth is slowing down
- Physical box sales continue to dwindle compared to digital sales
It’s definitely worth a read if you’re interested in the business of video games at all.
News screens from Dragon Age: Inquisition
Special thanks for this to Dragon Age Community on VKontakte
deviija replied to your post: “You know something is really really bad when it makes you look back on…”:I think that’s giving Cage and the game more credit than it should… or maybe that scene just happened to have better justification of agency and weaponizing of sex. But, to me, it still just reeks of yet more “sexy danger” for dudes to watch.
Oh god yea no we’re pretty sure whatever actual feminist merit that moment has is not by design and only exists in isolation from the rest of the game.
It’s not as if the scene redeems the game’s portrayal of women, or in David Cage’s other games, or the games industry at large. It’s also not as if we’re necessarily “right” about how the level should be interpreted.
If I had to make a definitive statement about my take on it, I’d say: There’s enough room in how that particular level plays out for a positive interpretation, such as the one summarized in the original post. Which puts it far ahead of those in MGS V, or other scenes in Heavy Rain itself.
On the other hand, it is hard to judge scenes like this which may (or may not, depending on your perspective) be “borderline,” when they exist within an industry that consistently fails women, and fails them spectacularly.
Bioware is the company who made a canon bisexual woman only available for male shepards
Bioware is the company that had a fucking beauty contest for me3’s default femshep’s appearance
Bioware is the company that made Femshep’s unable to call Kaidan out on his shit if she romanced someone else in ME2 & he tried to pull the whole “cheated” line while Maleshep’s could instantly shut down Ashley in the same scene
Bioware is the company that made a race of sexy, blue aliens and then proceeded to slut shame them & toss any agency or respectfullness that a long-lived species could have had out the window for the male dudebro’s titillation
Bioware is the company that created a genetically engineered “perfect” woman and then had every character in the game call her bitch, slut and every name in between.
Bioware is the company that made zero mention of there even being a female Shepard until the last game of the series
Bioware is the company that made it so that FemShep was the only Shepard that had an LI die on her no matter what they did in the previous games.
Bioware is also the company that made it so one of of FemShep’s LI’s cheated on her and got another woman pregnant and then had that LI come back later and say they were going to name the baby after her & Shepard had to be totally fine with it.
Don’t you fucking dare reblog something from me about the underrepresentation & mistreatment of women in Bioware games and tell me how ” they are all for what you want” when this shit is not what I want in my video games.
Not to dispute the point that even BioWare has a long way to go, but it’s not off-topic to point out that literally all of these examples are from Mass Effect. And the list is hardly comprehensive if it’s meant to be a catalog of that IP’s sins.
That’s not to say Dragon Age isn’t without its own problems, but there’s a clearly different track record here. I hope the team responsible for Mass Effect improves in their next (currently unannounced) project.
Confession: If Iron Bull is a companion, I want him to be voiced by Tommy Wiseau. No idea why, I just do.
Tommy Wiseau should voice all characters in all videogames.
"Nanomachines?! Ha ha. What a story Otacon."
You don’t realize you’re tone deaf until someone tells you that you’re singing off key. My comments earlier came from a narrow perspective (I’m a guy who thinks about design all day) and I’m honestly grateful to the people who graciously articulated how deep and wide this issue really is for them. My apologies to those I’ve offended. For someone in my position to come across as flippant is really shitty. It wasn’t my intent, but it’s still shitty and I’m sorry for that.
Additionally, I wasn’t trying to make fun of the Bingo game or the issues that birthed it. I thought it hit the nail right on the head. It’s important to be critical of these destructive tropes and cliches, otherwise they’ll stay exactly where they are. Wether they’re banished forever, or reclaimed by designers who treat the material and audience with respect, they’ve got to go. (In my artistic hubris, I do still believe that a handful of these squares could be reclaimed and subverted in interesting ways, but if I attempt to do so it will be done as personal work ONLY, not in my capacity as concept artist for Bioware.)
The issue of believable character design is a daily one for me. It’s been a ten year learning process. I’ve designed things I’m no longer proud of, but it has been open dialogue with passionate people like this that has helped me move forward. I’d encourage everyone to play the female armor bingo game when Inquisition comes out. Because of Bioware’s fantastic art team, I’m proud to say I think you’d be hard pressed to get a single square.
In closing, I’m sorry for minimizing an issue that means a great deal to people. My perspective is narrow, but I’m thankful to those who have been helping to widen it.
As a special present for Bikini Armor Battle Damage first anniversary, I present to you: Female Armor BINGO!
Feel free to use as a reference to quantify how ridiculous any female armor is.
edit: Updated the link into downloadable PDF!
Breakdown of all the squares under the cut.
This is pretty amusing. The most concise collection of tropes and cliches used in female character design that I’ve seen yet.
But it also got me thinking. Tropes and cliches are like knives: if you’re naive you’ll only hurt yourself and others, avoid them entirely and you’ll be safe but limited, OR learn how and when to use them to your advantage. Ignorance and prohibition are two paths to ruin.
Looking at this chart, I honestly think there’s a good chance that throughout my career I’ll use most of these (and many more that aren’t represented here). In fact, just reading through the list gave me a few design ideas. Of course if I’m doing my job right it should ALWAYS be in service of the story and character (not at their expense).
This issue raises a small red flag for me. As an artist, the one thing I dare not do is declare: I shan’t use this or that design element as long as I live, so help me God!Edit: I’m going to expand on my thoughts here, as a response to some of the comments I’ve received. Over the past 10 years as a concept artist I’ve been able to see that the difference between a lasting design and a forgettable one is how much it respects the audience and the character. My unique position has afforded me a lot of face time with gamers and fans (and would-be-fans) and their desires echo my own: give us more character designs we can believe in. And now, as a father of two daughters I am more invested than ever in the fight for inclusivity and creating designs that inspire and invite EVERYONE to join in. Let me be perfectly clear: I firmly believe we will win that fight by attacking imbedded mentalities, not specific aesthetic choices. We should certainly treat the symptoms, but I don’t want that to distract from fighting the disease. For example, the chart mentions boob cups, helmetless armor and armor with holes with skin showing through. I’m watching through Game of Thrones again, so I think of Cersei Lannister’s armored gown with boob cups, Brienne of Tarth’s lack of helmet and the incredible design language used in the desert armor of Qarth (more holes than metal, with minimal fabric beneath). They are all done tastefully and in support of character and setting. Their respect for the characters and the audience led them to create unique and story-supporting designs despite checking 3 bingo boxes. I understand that this list was created out of a frustration that, frankly, I will likely never fully experience. I know that it’s targeting the worst, most flagrant examples of these tropes, and to that I say “swing away”. Concept artists/art directors/producers who perpetuate this insidious atmosphere should ABSOLUTELY be taken down a peg. But saying “we will never draw these specific things again” basically just gives the sexist mentality more power. At that point they own those aesthetics and they have no right to. I have to believe that there are a hundred ways to design backless armor that don’t insult or alienate half the audience. A smart designer could take back “armored gloves and feet but no armor on the midsection”. That could look really cool and imply a totally different fighting technique. I will (very likely) never design a battle thong, but some day an artist better than me will design an army of men and women in battle thongs and nipple armor, and will handle it with dignity and respect to the characters and the audience, and we’ll thank them for it.