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Blizzard dev apologises for attitude to over-sexualised characters

Blizzard dev apologises for attitude to over-sexualised characters

Mon 25 Nov 2013 11:21am GMT / 6:21am EST / 3:21am PST
Development

"I don't want anyone to think that Blizzard is insensitive about how we portray our characters"

Activision Blizzard

Headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard, Inc. is a worldwide pure-play online...

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Blizzard game director Dustin Browder has apologised for statements he made in a recent interview concerning the overly sexualised character designs featured in MOBA titles like Heroes of the Storm.

During the interview with RockPaperShotgun, Browder brushed off the the interviewer's concerns on the subject of hyper-sexualised female characters.

"Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualised in a sense. I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We're not sending a message to anybody. We're just making characters who look cool," he said.

"We're not running for President. We're not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that."

Now Browder has now published a statement on the Heroes of the Storm blog, thanking RPS for raising the issue and apologising for his handling of it at the time.

"I responded poorly to a statement the interviewer made about over-sexualised character designs in games, and I want to apologise for that. This is a serious topic and I don't want anyone to think that I, or anyone else at Blizzard, is insensitive about how we portray our characters," he explained.

"It takes work to make compelling characters, but it's important to take a step back to ensure that we're not alienating our players. We have an amazing roster of heroes and we will always strive to make sure that everyone can have a hero that they identify with and feel powerful using."

66 Comments

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Popular Comment
He had nothing to apologize for. If you don't like the art-style of a game then don''t buy it/play it. Its a rather simple premise, vote with your wallet.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 25th November 2013 4:41pm

Posted:10 months ago

#1

Andreia Quinta Creative & People Photographer, Studio52 London

224 590 2.6
Popular Comment
I've read the interview and I don't spot anything wrong or preposterous with the way Dustin Browder answered. I do, however, see an over zealous interviewer who wouldn't drop his stupid point even after the question was answered. But unfortunately RPS has the tendency of pushing this type of questions to grab some attention I suppose.

This Industry is allowed to have their pandering of Micheal Bay'ish stuff, just like we occasionally get a Citizen Kane / Clockwork Orange.

Posted:10 months ago

#2

Robert Mac-Donald Game Designer, Lethe Games

65 58 0.9
In other news, orcs will no longer have muscles and Michael Cera has been cast for the new Conan movie.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Robert Mac-Donald on 25th November 2013 4:58pm

Posted:10 months ago

#3

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

51 164 3.2
Popular Comment
I disagree. RPS raised a perfectly reasonable issue - it is a hot topic in the press lately, but that's no reason to avoid the subject and Blizzard should probably have expected someone would ask them about it. Browder's response could only be interpreted as either "not our problem" or "not important". Neither reflects well, and RPS were right to call them on it.

Posted:10 months ago

#4

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
But the issue clearly isn't important otherwise games like LoL wouldn't be so popular, the only reason why it keeps popping up is because "journalists" keep dragging it out.

Posted:10 months ago

#5
My wife was actually at a female orientated conference looking to encourage more women in IT where the female presenter actually produced evidence to support the view that women/girls prefer to look at sexualized good looking women.

Posted:10 months ago

#6

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

51 164 3.2
If feminist articles are "just link-bait", and genuinely feminist gamers are a vocal minority, then all those hits must come from gamers screeching "THERE IS NO PROBLEM HERE!"

And that is, in itself, a problem. QED.

Posted:10 months ago

#7

Emily Rose Freelance Artist

81 36 0.4
I'd be happy with a choice, Blizzard have already said there will be many skins for each hero, so hopefully there will be something to make everyone happy :)

Posted:10 months ago

#8

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
They get hits because of their hilarity and bizarre nature.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 25th November 2013 6:18pm

Posted:10 months ago

#9

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
Urgh.

Okay. A couple of things.

1) I do think the interviewer over-stretched himself. Had the question been rephrased, it would've worked better, but the way it was put across meant that it could be seen as entirely reasonable to cut the interview there. Not good form, and not very diplomatic.

2)
We're not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that."
The RPS rebuttal piece takes Browder to task over this, and rightly so - whether you explicitly aim to send a message or not, one is taken away from whatever media or entertainment you partake in.

3) This apology comes across as mealy-mouthed and bland.

4)
If you don't like the art-style of a game then don''t buy it/play it. Its a rather simple premise, vote with your wallet.
So, the choice is either put-up with hyper-sexualised characters, or don't enjoy what is otherwise a fine game?
In other news, orcs will no longer have muscles and Michael Cera has been cast for the new Conan movie.
Disingenuous. No-one complains about Conan because his half-naked body is secondary to the siutations he's placed in, all of which have power and agency. Half-naked women in a fantasy setting more often than not are in situations where their power has been removed, and they are there to ogle. And, even when they have power, their clothing makes little sense a lot of the time.
But the issue clearly isn't important otherwise games like LoL wouldn't be so popular, the only reason why it keeps popping up is because "journalists" keep dragging it out.
I've never played LoL, but even I've heard stories of the misogyny and venomous insults within it. Just because a game is popular with a section of the gaming populace, does not mean it is a) inclusive, or b) friendly. Popularity =/= a perfect paradise.
My wife was actually at a female orientated conference looking to encourage more women in IT where the female presenter actually produced evidence to support the view that women/girls prefer to look at sexualized good looking women.
No doubt some women do like playing and looking at sexualised women. But why exclude the portion of the poulation who don't? Come on guys - there's nothing wrong with having normal looking characters in normal clothes. As I commented on the RPS thread - why not have the default being normal clothes, and stripper skins as unlockables? Or just a straight out choice at the start.

Edit:

I don't see it linked to in the original article, so here's the RPS rebuttal I mention above: http://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2013/11/22/re-that-heroes-of-the-storm-interview/

Edited 6 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 25th November 2013 7:41pm

Posted:10 months ago

#10

Robert Mac-Donald Game Designer, Lethe Games

65 58 0.9
Half-naked women in a fantasy setting more often than not are in situations where their power has been removed, and they are there to ogle
This is not the case with most girls featured on their game though, since they fight. The point however, is that, nobody complains about strong and/or good looking guys on games, and blizzard seems to be apologizing only for the female ones. Why is it only wrong for female characters to look sexually attractive?

Posted:10 months ago

#11

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
Why is it only wrong for female characters to look sexually attractive?
It's not so much physically attractive, as it is the use of female bodies as psuedo-masturbatory devices for a section of the gaming population. Sure, male characters are half-naked too, and, yeah, we should complain about that. But, whether by accident or design, female characters seem to be posed in a more sexual manner, and more submissively, regardless of whatever powers they may have. Which leads into something else, where I'm going to quote from a post I made on the RPS thread:


may be making the industry (and its consumers) consciously or subconsciously sexist, and far less inclusive than it should be.
You'll note my italics through this comment. It's because perception is key - an inclusive and friendly gaming environment is one that all parts of society feel comfortable in. If a group perceives that something is hostile to them (whether it be gender or something else), then it's a negative for everyone.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 25th November 2013 8:22pm

Posted:10 months ago

#12

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
So, the choice is either put-up with hyper-sexualised characters, or don't enjoy what is otherwise a fine game?
Yes, if you care that much about the art style then you wouldn't want to support the game anyway, Blizzard knows its target audience that's what Browder meant when he said "We're not running for president" he's basically saying he doesn't give a shit about the 0.001% of people who MIGHT play the game and get offended over breasts. hes way more concerned about the other 99.999% potential players, He's directing a game which will be competing with League of legends and Dota2 the last thing on his mind is crazy feminists social issues.
I've never played LoL, but even I've heard stories of the misogyny and venomous insults within it. Just because a game is popular with a section of the gaming populace, does not mean it is a) inclusive, or b) friendly. Popularity =/= a perfect paradise.
But none of that matters if a) your fans are pleased and b) you're making profit.

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 25th November 2013 8:54pm

Posted:10 months ago

#13

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
But none of that matters if a) your fans are pleased and b) you're making profit.
I honestly despair, if that's your genuine reaction. Apply that logic to any other industry, and you can see how short-sighted it is, surely?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 25th November 2013 9:05pm

Posted:10 months ago

#14

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
The number 1 priority of a business is to make profit, I don't see how that would change per industry. Everything a business does ties back to profit.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 25th November 2013 9:27pm

Posted:10 months ago

#15

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
Oh good gravy on a stick. Someone needs to make a game with nothing but asexual amorphous blobby things that can be customized however a player prefers and that's that. Of course, I'd bet real money that some will STILL find a way to complain about it online...

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Greg Wilcox on 25th November 2013 9:28pm

Posted:10 months ago

#16

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
But the attitude to making a profit does change per industry. The Fairtrade Movement and the Organic Movement are two examples. Companies can make a profit by selling standard fare, or they can make less (or more?) of a profit by taking a social and economic stance. Or what about the campaigns against newspaper/magazine stockists selling Nuts/FHM/GQ at children's head-height? Companies still make a profit, even though they take a stand against "demeaning magazines".

Posted:10 months ago

#17

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
But the attitude to making a profit does change per industry. The Fairtrade Movement and the Organic Movement are two examples. Companies can make a profit by selling standard fare, or they can make less (or more?) of a profit by taking a social and economic stance.
That's all PR, and even then organic and fair trade products are a lot more expensive.
Or what about the campaigns against newspaper/magazine stockists selling Nuts/FHM/GQ at children's head-height? Companies still make a profit, even though they take a stand against "demeaning magazines".
That's just PR again.

Posted:10 months ago

#18

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

316 1,277 4.0
Popular Comment
Paul, if the number one priority of a business is to make profit, why is it illegal to force employees to work hundred-hour weeks, or keep slaves, since after all that improves profit margins slightly when you can get maximum productivity out of them? I mean, it's a gross violation of human rights, but who cares so long as you're still turning a profit, right?

And what about free-to-play games stuffed to the gills with microtransactions, big fan of that eh? After all, they make boatloads of money! Why isn't every game using that model? What do you mean, fun and engaging content? That doesn't sound like 'huge profits' to me.

It's almost... as if making money isn't the be-all end-all of human endeavour.

I greatly respect RPS for taking the stand that they have over this; Blizzard, despite their immense popularity, don't have a great record for interesting visual character design when it comes to women(and no, tits-and-asses do not automatically qualify as 'interesting'), and it really grates to see them getting a pass on it just because their games are pretty good. Their response I would hardly qualify as an apology; being as vague and non-committal as it is, it reads more like 'Please forget all about this' than an earnest acknowledgement of their failure, any kind of commitment to change anything, or even engagement with the controversial topic at all.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jessica Hyland on 25th November 2013 10:52pm

Posted:10 months ago

#19

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
@ Paul:
That's all PR, and even then organic and fair trade products are a lot more expensive.

Fairtrade Standards for hired labour situations ensure that employees receive minimum wages and collective bargaining. Fairtrade-certified plantations must also ensure that there is no forced or child labour and that health and safety requirements are met.
( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fairtrade#Fairtrade_Standards )

Yeah, all PR. Totally.

As for cost. the Clipper Organic Fairtrade Tea I buy from Waitrose costs the same as the non-organic.

Whilst profit may be the number one factor behind a business making decisions, it's fairly obvious that social, economic and environmental factors (like, say, how inclusive something is, or how negative stereotypes are avoided) all play a part in how large a profit is made.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 25th November 2013 10:52pm

Posted:10 months ago

#20

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Paul, if the number one priority of a business is to make profit, why is it illegal to force employees to work hundred-hour weeks, or keep slaves, since after all that improves profit margins slightly when you can get maximum productivity out of them? I mean, it's a gross violation of human rights, but who cares so long as you're still turning a profit, right?
You answered that question yourself, its illegal and illegal practices result in bad PR. Bad PR generally isn't good for business.
And what about free-to-play games stuffed to the gills with microtransactions, big fan of that eh? After all, they make boatloads of money! Why isn't every game using that model? What do you mean, fun and engaging content? That doesn't sound like 'huge profits' to me.
I am not a big fan of f2p games with microtransactions and that's why I don't play them. The sole reason why they even exist is because they are profitable.
Whilst profit may be the number one factor behind a business making decisions, it's fairly obvious that social, economic and environmental factors (like, say, how inclusive something is, or how negative stereotypes are avoided) all play a part in how large a profit is made.
Like I said everything ties back to profit, when it comes to things like "negative stereotypes" etc not enough people care about it to actually effect decision changes.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 25th November 2013 10:55pm

Posted:10 months ago

#21

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
You answered that question yourself, its illegal and illegal practices result in bad PR. Bad PR generally isn't good for business.
Oh, hai Apple. :p

Posted:10 months ago

#22

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
You'd be surprised how little people care about these things, out of sight out of mind.

Posted:10 months ago

#23

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

316 1,277 4.0
Blizzard are desperately trying to stave off the 'bad PR' fallout of sounding like they don't give a shit about their sexist character designs, right now. The original RPS interview exploded through industry sites and across Twitter when it went out. There's a lot more people concerned about Blizzard's poor portrayal of women than you seem to think.

That's why they put out that non-apology: trying to have their cake and eat it, they're trying to appease everyone who's unhappy with the character designs while going out of their way not to upset the precious fanboys who would be angered by actual change. Sounds like they realise it's a bigger deal than you do. Unfortunately for them, the statement is as transparent as glass and very few of us are convinced that it will amount to anything.

Posted:10 months ago

#24

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
Like I said everything ties back to profit, when it comes to things like "negative stereotypes" etc not enough people care about it to actually effect decision changes.
Ah, you missed my point a little: How much more money could be made if, rather than waiting for consumers to affect change, Blizzard (in this instance) affected change themselves? Like, Lush or Body Shop, which found a market for cosmetics not tested on animals where there previously was none, forward-thinking games companies could (should?) anticipate where the profit will be, not where it is. It sounds trite, yeah, but companies can affect change far easier than consumers, and it can only benefit the industry as a whole.

Posted:10 months ago

#25

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Ah, you missed my point a little: How much more money could be made if, rather than waiting for consumers to affect change, Blizzard (in this instance) affected change themselves?
I can imagine that they'd make less money if they pandered to the feminist crowd. 90%+ of LoL's playerbase is male and for whatever reason LoL players like sexy female characters. If Blizzard is trying to take some of that market then it would be stupid to go down that route.
Blizzard are desperately trying to stave off the 'bad PR'.
Personally the comments actually made me like Blizzard more.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 25th November 2013 11:25pm

Posted:10 months ago

#26

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

316 1,277 4.0
I like how respectful and interesting character designs are somehow 'pandering' to the sinister 'feminist crowd'. If 90% of LoL's playerbase is male, doesn't it stand to reason that there's a huge number of women who are underserved by the MOBA genre? Might it possibly make sense for a game developer to court this market by, say, designing female characters who are more than the sum of their rounded bodyparts?

Posted:10 months ago

#27

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Well that implies that the audience even exists to be targeted, even if it did exist, is it the sexy girls which are really stopping them from playing? and if it was and they changed the designs would the influx of that market make up for the market they might lose?

Posted:10 months ago

#28

Jessica Hyland Character Artist

316 1,277 4.0
Contrary to what some people might think, many women do enjoy competitive games. But it's very offputting for people who are unused to the pervasive, depressing background noise that is sexism in videogames to be greeted with scantily-clad women with giant breasts in a game that is ostensibly not actually about sex. The initial image problem is compounded by hugely male-dominated, famously toxic communities. If a game developer was to actively fight against what have sadly become defining features of the MOBA genre - juvenile T&A and hateful behaviour - I think they'd find themselves a much better market, with better player retention, more diversity and yes, I think, more players overall.

Frankly, a player who quits playing a game because the female characters had interesting designs that were about more than exposing as much flesh as possible and making sure at all times that boobs were prominently displayed is not a player I would be much interested in retaining.

Posted:10 months ago

#29

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
Frankly, a player who quits playing a game because the female characters had interesting designs that were about more than exposing as much flesh as possible and making sure at all times that boobs were prominently displayed is not a player I would be much interested in retaining.
Well that goes back to money making, Riot have said that the sexy heroes get bought/played more than monstrous/interesting ones.

Posted:10 months ago

#30

Greg Wilcox Creator, Destroy All Fanboys!

2,193 1,170 0.5
Hm. So what does that say about the ladies (and guys) that aren't offended, play the games and yes, show up as cosplayers at Blizzcon and other events in outfits EXACTLY like those "sexist" designs? I'm always curious as to how people who get upset about some art that's been around for AGES getting turned into reality by some very talented and devoted fans (male and female)...

Posted:10 months ago

#31

Mikko Karvonen Executive Producer / Production Manager, Rovio Mobile Ltd

1 7 7.0
Profitable is one value for a product. Inclusive and friendly are other values.

Do you really believe that these values exclude each other? And is 'highly sexualized female characters' really the only way to achieve 'profitable'?
So what does that say about the ladies (and guys) that aren't offended, play the games and yes, show up as cosplayers at Blizzcon and other events in outfits EXACTLY like those "sexist" designs?
It says that they have different sensibilities and values. No better, no worse. That's all there is to it.

Besides, liking the designs or characters does not mean one would enjoy the sexists attitude towards oneself when gaming. Also, it does not mean that you wouldn't like those same characters if their design was less sexualized.

Posted:10 months ago

#32

Alfonso Sexto Lead Tester, Ubisoft Germany

818 652 0.8
"Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We're not sending a message to anybody."

Keeping the general looks of her aside, you kinda send a message with that when no female soldier from any army in the world in her sane mind would enter combat wearing heels. Just saying.

"No one should look to our game for that."

In that I agree. Blizzard's female characters may be designed to look cool but they are far from being an excuse for some eye-candy. They have a purpose in the story, they have strength and they feel like women that are realistic in their behavior given the background of their worlds. Not to mention that in a lot of cases (The Demon Hunter in Diablo III, for example) they get that perfect balance that is being sexy and not a mere sexual advertising.

Posted:10 months ago

#33

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

880 1,291 1.5
If 90% of LoL's playerbase is male, doesn't it stand to reason that there's a huge number of women who are underserved by the MOBA genre? Might it possibly make sense for a game developer to court this market by, say, designing female characters who are more than the sum of their rounded bodyparts?
If you are trying to suggest that people avoid a game primarily because the lead character has their pecs/breasts out and bulging, I think you're insulting both sexes. Maybe these missing women would rather a hunky man or a sexy woman too?

Personally, I want my game characters to be like the rest of the game, escapist, exaggerated and in yer face. That means sexy powerful women, yes sexy powerful men, and enough "flirting" to make me smile once in a while. Jesus people, lighten up. If this subject is big and important for you, then maybe just give praise for your charmed life instead. Or maybe go volunteer in the Phillipines for a bit where the problems they are having are not based on the size of a virtual game character's tits.

Edited 3 times. Last edit by Paul Johnson on 26th November 2013 8:48am

Posted:10 months ago

#34

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
@ Paul J
If you are trying to suggest that people play a game primarily because the lead character has their pecs/breasts out and bulging, I think you're insulting both sexes.
I honestly don't see how you can get that from Jessica's comment. I really don't.
Maybe these missing women would rather a hunky man or a sexy woman too?
And I said a few comments above here:
No doubt some women do like playing and looking at sexualised women. But why exclude the portion of the population who don't?

I want my game characters to be like the rest of the game, escapist, exaggerated and in yer face. That means sexy powerful women, yes sexy powerful men, and enough "flirting" to make me smile once in a while.
What about other people? Both men and women who are made uncomfortable by this? When something could so easily be rectified, tell me why this industry is so stubbornly, overtly, sexist, in a way that reminds me of mainstream American comics in the 90s? And remember it's not even so much getting rid of the hyper-sexualised characters, as it is not making those skins default, and giving choice. Also, tell me why this subject is "Feminist", yet if we were talking about the lack of black/asian/First Nations/gay/bi/trans characters it would be "Inclusive"?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 26th November 2013 9:04am

Posted:10 months ago

#35

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,130 1,162 1.0
Call me weird, but when on a date with a female Blizzard character, I'd be more concerned about the glowing eyes thing, or the giant bone wings growing from the back than attracted by the oversized cleavage. Does that make me racist? So when on date with Kerrigan, man up, try not to look, say how you like the boots, and no hugs. Maybe you live.

Posted:10 months ago

#36

David Canela Game Designer

55 101 1.8
I find the quality of the arguments presented in these debates is frequently seriously depressing:
-"a woman I know likes a sexy female character, thus it's evidently not a problem that there hardly ever is a CHOICE to play anything non-sexualised as a woman. plus, cosplay."
-"Children are starving in Africa, so in comparison the issue you're bringing up is obviously not worth discussing."
etc. etc.

It's been a hot topic lately, so I can somewhat understand the fear of pitchforks and torches, but I think we need to relax and talk about these things without resorting to flawed logic and cheap cop-outs. My personal, limited experience is that nobody minds having the OPTION to play a sexy character, of course not, but many are annoyed by the fact that women often can't choose to play anything else, and rightfully so. I would feel the same if indeed roles were reversed (no, Conan doesn't reverse the roles).

Posted:10 months ago

#37

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
Seems to me that most people commenting haven't really looked at Blizzards art. Diablo 3 (in my opinion) did a fantastic job of their female character designs which were very well balanced and not at all over sexualised. The female barbarian being a good example, if that is over sexualised then you have to accuse them of doing the same for the male one, or admit that it isn't a problem.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew on 26th November 2013 10:52am

Posted:10 months ago

#38

Tom Keresztes Programmer

683 335 0.5
(no, Conan doesn't reverse the roles)
But Chuck Norris does. There is a reason why no male Blizzard characters are discussed here - Chuck Norris already had a chat with them.

Posted:10 months ago

#39

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
I would feel the same if indeed roles were reversed (no, Conan doesn't reverse the roles).
I have to ask what is the "reversed role?" and why isn't it Conan/Kratos.

Posted:10 months ago

#40

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
@ Alex

Speculating a bit, but maybe the brouhaha relates to the fact that MOBA's are the quintessential clique genre? Not only is the level of acquired knowledge needed to play them well enormous, but the social interactions within them seem to make the stereotypical American High School seem like a friendly Sunday Tea round at the Vicar's. Add to that a high level of sexualisation in the character designs, and you have a potentially toxic mix. A comment from someone on the RPS rebuttal thread I read a few days ago stayed with me:

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 26th November 2013 11:34am

Posted:10 months ago

#41

Andrew Animator

148 158 1.1
@ Morville

Well, the behviour and mentality of LoL players and Blizzards art choices are entirely different issues. I agree with you that there needs to be an awareness from the developer of the kinds of players they may attract and how something such as art style may ecourage what you describe. But I don't think that desription rings true for WoW, Starcraft or Diablo.

There is a general issue with players conduct online which the industry needs to find a way of dealing with. That is a seperate conversation.

Out of curiosity, how do people feel about cosplay? In particular women cosplaying as some of these characters in question. I don't really know my opinion as I write this. Are these cosplayers as guilty as blizzard? Are they a minority who don't represent the larger group? I'm just curious.

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Andrew on 26th November 2013 12:27pm

Posted:10 months ago

#42
@Morville O'Driscol

It's not some women, it's the vast majority of women who want to see sexual attractive characters as well. It's got nothing to do with the male power fantasy rubbish that feminists spout. Both genders don't like playing/looking at average or ugly people when they play the role of the protagonist in games. Which is one of the reasons why girls love cos-play, they want to dress as those sexy powerful characters.

By seeking to deliberating exclude sexy attractive women in games you are pandering to a very small vocal minority, most who probably aren't even gamers. Which is the corporate way. i.e. dumb it down so no one finds it offensive.

Is that a good thing especially with a medium that we're also looking to be appreciated as art?

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Owens on 26th November 2013 12:44pm

Posted:10 months ago

#43

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
@ Alex

True, the issues of sexism/sexualisation and gamers attitudes are related but not mutually dependent. :) Regarding cosplay, I think it comes back to the whole "Female agency" thing. If someone chooses to dress-up as a character, then it can be empowering, alluring, and very positive. It makes a statement about the persons's identity and confidence (just like any public identity does, like goth or punk). But forcing females into playing as a bikini-clad character removes choice and agency - "Play as Sexy-Vixen or don't play at all" is patronising and just plain bad design.

(And it's interesting to note the cosplay that grown up around other media. Women cosplaying as Kaylee from Firefly, for instance, who's not who you tend to imagine as having a cosplay following.)

@ John
By seeking to deliberating exclude sexy attractive women
... I don't mean to come across as annoyed, but did you even read what I said? I specifically said the opposite of what you just put in my mouth. Here:
it's not even so much getting rid of the hyper-sexualised characters, as it is not making those skins default, and giving choice
and
No doubt some women do like playing and looking at sexualised women. But why exclude the portion of the population who don't?... Why not have the default being normal clothes, and stripper skins as unlockables? Or just a straight out choice at the start.
Bolded sections imply acceptance and allowance for players to choose "sexy attractive women".

Also,
It's not some women, it's the vast majority of women who want to see sexual attractive characters as well.
Aaaaaand you know this... How?
you are pandering to a very small vocal minority, most who probably aren't even gamers
Ahhh, assumptions. Aren't they great? Or not. :) Seriously, no-one knows how many gamers are being lost through (I am tempted to say almost endemic) sexist attitudes. To assume "most... aren't even gamers" is just as bad as assuming most are.

Edit:
It's not some women, it's the vast majority of women who want to see sexual attractive characters as well.
Off-topic, but this line of reasoning reminds me of arguments in favour of women's magazines that show nothing but "ideal" women, and size-0 celebrities and models. The assumption that women must aspire to the ideal must also mean that the realistic body image of real-women never be shown. But anyways... Off -topic. :)

Edited 5 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 26th November 2013 1:01pm

Posted:10 months ago

#44
I have no problems putting both types in. From a marketing perspective it makes sense.

But if you aren't talking about removing the sexually attractive female characters then what's the issue? Surely they're either OK and there's no issue or they're not - where they are placed is irrelevant, if they're Ok. :-)

But sorry I didn't read the whole thread, I only commented because of what my wife said recently was interesting and relevant and it confirmed what I long suspected. Actually what was even funnier was the fact that there was a feminist in the crowd that actually tried to stand up and shout the presenter down because she didn't agree. lol

Posted:10 months ago

#45

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
Ah, fair fair. Like I say, I was trying to not sound annoyed. :)

Yeah, I personally don't have a problem with the silly costumes. It's the fact that it's silly costumes with no other choice in attire. As I say, that's just poor design, when developers know for a fact that they're antagonising at least some number of women, and some number of those would be likely to at least try their game.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 26th November 2013 1:17pm

Posted:10 months ago

#46

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

880 1,291 1.5
Popular Comment
Can I say at this point that I like looking at sexy women with large breasts?

Feel free to be offended, it's a free country.

Posted:10 months ago

#47
@Morville

I totally agree.

With DLC and micro transactions there's certainly every reason why developers should and now can cater to practically everyone but I don't think that was what people took issue with or what the developer was forced to apologize for.

But also it's got nothing to do with being forced to aspire to look like these characters. That's there personal choice. You don't argue that we should ban superman from having muscles just because it forces fat guys into getting in shape. Those two things are separate. People look to their peer groups whenever they're judging themselves not to celebrities or media and it's social networking sites like Facebook that have a far worse effect on people's psyche than anything else in all forms of life; looks, career, popularity etc

It's a manufactured problem created to give professional feminists something to rile against.

@Paul lol

Edited 2 times. Last edit by John Owens on 26th November 2013 1:37pm

Posted:10 months ago

#48

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
when developers know for a fact that they're antagonising at least some number of women,
Well that's impossible to avoid anyway, man or woman someone out there isn't going to like your design choices.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 26th November 2013 1:38pm

Posted:10 months ago

#49

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
@ Paul
Can I say at this point that I like looking at sexy women with large breasts?
So do I. I follow a pro-porn sex and tech writer (Violet Blue), and a nude Glamour Model (London Andrews). But I'm not forcing other people to "play" as them, like them, or dress up as them. See how choice works both ways? :)

@ John
It's a manufactured problem created to give professional feminists something to rile against.
But it really isn't. Sorry, but you can't say "With DLC and micro transactions there's certainly every reason why developers should and now can cater to practically everyone" and then say that it's a manufactured problem. Because publishers don't cater to practically everyone. The point where the interview really goes wrong is this from Nathan Grayson (the interviewer):
The goal is to let people have fun in an environment where they can feel awesome without being weirded out or even objectified. This is a genre about empowerment. letting everyone have a fair chance to feel awesome.
(my emphases)

If women don't feel empowered - or worse, feel objectified - then the publishers are doing something wrong, and need to be taken to task for it, especially when it's so easy to correct (in this instance, anyways).

@ Paul:

True. But it makes sense to minimise that as far as possible, right? :) (Within practical reasons, of course).

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 26th November 2013 1:51pm

Posted:10 months ago

#50

Chris Payne Associate Lead Programmer, Traveller's Tales

51 164 3.2
For those still denying there is any problem - let's examine Browder's choice of words:
We're not running for President.
That is a statement that they did not want to be held to a high standard. He himself accepted that something is wrong with their portrayal of women, but didn't want to be judged on it. To his credit, he now acknowledges his mistake. And at least Browder never denied the problem exists...

Posted:10 months ago

#51

Paul Smith Dev

189 154 0.8
That is a statement that they did not want to be held to a high standard. He himself accepted that something is wrong with their portrayal of women, but didn't want to be judged on it. To his credit, he now acknowledges his mistake. And at least Browder never denied the problem exists...
Or he could just mean "we aren't trying to cater to everyone" OR "we're not trying to get brownie points"

Edited 2 times. Last edit by Paul Smith on 26th November 2013 2:10pm

Posted:10 months ago

#52
@Morville O'Driscoll

Publishers cater to whoever they think will buy their products. You can't expect them to cater for a non-existent market because even if it's a potential market then they would still do it although they may want to use articles like this to get other developers to cater for that market whenever it's still unprofitable to grow it first.

But that's not what the problem certain feminists have and what I was referring to. Their issue is that they don't think the female characters should be sexualized in any way because women ultimately shouldn't be viewed as sex objects. Now what I'm saying is that's not a problem because it's actually a manufactured issue created by feminists that only they have a problem with and not the girls and guys that are actually playing the games.

Girts who play games already do feel empowered playing as the alpha females that look like Giselle Buchen or the characters from Street Fighter etc

And that they wouldn't feel empowered if they're forced to play as the plain Jane.

That's ultimately what this women was saying at a female oriented conference held in the Google building. She was the furthest person from someone having an agenda, she was just presenting what her research told her.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by John Owens on 26th November 2013 2:51pm

Posted:10 months ago

#53

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
Mmmm... Okay, for a start, I'm close to saying "Agree to disagree" because this is a much wider issue, and I don't think we'll change each-other's minds anytime soon. :) Bearing that in mind...
But that's not what the problem certain feminists have and what I was referring to. Their issue is that they don't think the female characters should be sexualized in any way because women ultimately shouldn't be viewed as sex objects.
I'd be tempted to say that these people don't qualify as "Feminists", and certainly don't qualify as people who allow their own gender to have choice and agency. A good example would be Gail Dines ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gail_Dines ) who opposes porn, even when women themselves choose to do it. So, I'd say these types of "Feminists" are as bad as misogynists for the lack of understanding they display towards female empowerment. But all that being said doesn't mean that sexism/sexualisation is a manufactured issue due to the "silent majority" of "the girls and guys that are actually playing the games". You only have to read some of the comments from women here, and in other places, about the games industry to see that it is definitely an issue.

Finally:
You can't expect them to cater for a non-existent market because even if it's a potential market then they would still do it.
I really would like to see a publisher produce non-hyper-sexualised skins or characters, and release them as free DLC (or better, as part of the game itself) and for them to check the metrics on their usage. People such as yourself are soooooooooooo sure there's no market for them (because, hey, market-forces), but that assumes that there's no intrinsic sexism within the publishers that automatically kills (or doesn't even think of) "normal" female characters/skins.

Edit: Also, can you remember the researcher's name? I'm curious. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 26th November 2013 3:06pm

Posted:10 months ago

#54
Off course the opinion here of women is going to be skewed. What I'm talking about is impartial research not the view of an inherently sexist publisher or feminist campaigner etc. Although in the interests of full disclosure I think she was referring to TV and movies as opposed to video game characters. I just wanted to let people know because it's taken as given that girl gamers are turned off by those kinds of characters and what I'm saying is that's not necessarily and probably isn't the case.

I don't know if that changes your mind to the issue or not. I suspect it probably doesn't as I think those characters are simply just not to your taste and you want more characters that reflect your personal taste but I may be wrong. In other words I don't know if you have agenda or not and if so do you even realize it.

However even though I think that research does indicate that there is little to no market I also think that if you are a big publisher with plenty of resources you should probably try to cater to as wide an audience as popular because they have the money to afford to take the chance but not if you are a smaller developer with a limited budget. Either way it's not something you should have to answer and apologize for even if you have the resources unless it's to your shareholders.

Although that gets into the whole corporation morality question and I for one don't want them deciding that although maybe you do.

I think it might have been Margaret Ward although I'll ask my wife tonight

http://ireland.girlgeekdinners.com/category/news/

She presented the:

"Margaret Ward will be presenting a talk on InVisible woMan: why women experts need to engage more in public life (meetings, conferences and media.) Stepping up to these challenges ensures women advance in their careers, become leaders and provide girls with role models in all industries."

Sounds a bit like the Sherly Sandberg's view that women should "Lean In" and the feminists didn't like that either.

Anyway we'll leave it at that.

Posted:10 months ago

#55

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
Anyway we'll leave it at that.
Aye, thanks for the info. :)

Posted:10 months ago

#56

Klaus Preisinger Freelance Writing

1,130 1,162 1.0
Once upon a time, there was a man called Stanley.
Stanley was using his free time to interact with what was generally referred to as a game. Over the course of Stanley's games, he would be tossed into situations requiring him to make a choice. This series of choices resulted in entertainment, even though strictly speaking, there weren't any real choices. But Stanley did not mind as the interaction was engaging enough to entertain his brain.

Along came a business focused developer who had studied focus test groups for quite some while. He suggested to Stanley that his fun could be even more fun, if Stanley imagined he was the manliest of men wearing a loin cloth while making the same choices. Stanley did not mind and in doing so created a feedback loop in which men became more than men and loin cloth became less than loin cloth. After some time, Stanley started to look away from the gameplay and onto his main character, only to find things a bit depressing. "No problem said the business developer, I know what you need, here, have a metal loin errr cloth". Stanley sighed. "Ok, forget what I just mentioned" said the business developer, "I asked many people like you and they all say the game is better if they do not imagine themselves to be a manly man. In fact, the game is best enjoyed, if you imagine to be a woman....with huge breast. Everybody likes breasts, it says so on my chart".

So Stanley began to imagine himself as a woman with huge breasts. The longer he did, the larger his imagined breast grew and the harder it became to imagine clothing for them. But Stanley did not think of that detail, since he now knew what it meant to make all the same choices again, but from the perspective of a woman. He was certain that any day now, he could get up from his desk and....

Posted:10 months ago

#57
What's that game on?

Oculus Rift.

Posted:10 months ago

#58

Rashad Foux Character Artist, Hi-Rez Studios, Inc.

4 10 2.5
I've worked in the games industry for a couple of years now, and I've made a bunch of sexualised characters.
And when I say sexualised, I mean the designs are portrayed in ways that emphasize or enhance the area's of the body most related to sex and procreation in our current society.

And it puzzles me.

I mean, as a heterosexual male, I appreciate this emphasis on a base level, but . . . that's about it. I only appreciate it at that basic, primal level. When I start to think about it, not just here, but in a ton of different games, that sort of raw pandering seems . . . insulting, and it takes me out of the experience.

I understand that as a business, game companies seek to make the most amount of money by appealing to the least common denominator, but I feel like we should seek to balance that drive with a desire to improve the maturity and quality of our craft, and the presentation of our community to others.

I played all my female characters in KOTOR in their underwear because I was a horny kid. Now, I feel mildly ashamed with showing some of my work to the women in my life because it looks like a horny kid designed it. And I'm not that kid anymore. And I wish our industry would stop acting like we are as a whole :(

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Rashad Foux on 26th November 2013 9:42pm

Posted:10 months ago

#59

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

880 1,291 1.5
But I'm not forcing other people to "play" as them, like them, or dress up as them. See how choice works both ways? :)
Actually I don't, which is why I'm injecting my puerility into the proceedings. They're the same way.

You are not forcing me to go look at London Andrews. (although I now shall - thanks for the tip)

Blizzard are not forcing anyone to play a buxom wench character in their game.

That's it really.

Posted:10 months ago

#60

Paul Johnson Managing Director / Lead code monkey, Rubicon Development

880 1,291 1.5
As for "empowerment". Oh purlease, ffs.

If you, male or female, feel "empowered" because of the choices available to you in a video game, then I respectfully suggest you need to talk your issues through with a mental health professional. And I'm not being glib. Empowerment my arse. Go join the Army.

Posted:10 months ago

#61

Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.

2,270 2,439 1.1
Art and design are not the issue. Those are just the quick and dirty, as it were, targets that represent the underlying issue. Which is balance of ethos. Both the men and women (granted women often much more so) are designed with sexual constructs in mind before characterizations are added in. Often times, female characters are less balanced in their sexualization and their characterization which unbalances the genders as a whole.

That said, it's not the case for every game. I'm not familiar with recent Blizzard games enough to know if this circumstance fits but I've come to learn that even when characters of both sexes are balanced (solid, strong characters with equal power and mental faculties...and mutual respect) that some groups will focus on the sexualization alone out of ignorance of the balance of ethos that actually exists in the game. Many times they will assume that a female character in a sexy outfit automatically means she's inferior in power and respect.

And in many times, they are indeed of inferior power and respect. If not by the design of the game, than almost assuredly by a vocal majority/minority that play the game. This, along with an unbalanced ethos in the game itself, is of issue. Women shouldn't have to endure vocalized statements of intent to rape (either themselves or the character they are using). It's akin to blacks not having to be called the N word. Now, I'm all for freedom of speech and I certainly am not suggesting these things be legislated into action but as a society we need to rise above these issues but we never will if we can't portray that better society in our art.

So again, it's not the clothes, or lack thereof, but the portrayal of that character with respect to others.

Posted:10 months ago

#62

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
@ Christian Keichel

Thanks for the quote... And I'd also forgotten all about Boob Jam, so it's doubly informative. :)

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 27th November 2013 9:12pm

Posted:10 months ago

#63

Andrew Ihegbu Studying Bsc Commercial Music, University of Westminster

455 164 0.4
I honestly just can't get over Morville's hypocritical outlook on all his posts.

Okay, imagine this. Every single game you have labeled as 'too sexy' or whatever your barometer for this issue is. Imagine that every single character had the option to have their gender swapped.

Issue fixed. Why, because your gender bias is so utterly skewed that making all the subjects of these female sexualization 'problems' into males would only leave one issue. 'Why are there no females in videogames?' Literally everything that has been mentioned from your 'psuedo-masturbatory' comments to your 'I don't get where you got the idea that she would not play games if they had gender bias from, Paul' when Jessica blatantly said that gender problems were 'offputting' stands to say that you are a bit blind to your cause. It doesn't help that you preach things that you don't personally believe for the sake of driving that cause too.

-----


On the other hand, I enjoy Jessica and Paul's two takes on the issue, and I personally am aware that these equate to differences in opinion that actually reside much deeper in human psyche than we're willing to go. On the one hand there is the side that says.

"Yes, I am male. We like boobs, butts and flirty characters thank you very much. It's a bit superficial and once the story gets going we stop caring, but we do like them and should have some games that include them because we are a valid part of the market."

On the other hand we have the side that says
"No, I am female. Not all of us care, but it hurts some of us just to see that imagery and feel like we are cheapened by the actual effects of it, but because you are not female, sometimes it is hard for you to understand where and when. To add to this, we don't represent much of the industry right now so if you do hurt us not much happens to show you the effects, but you are missing out on a huge market by doing this."


Whilst there is bias in the industry what we need to do is go back to the core issue that it seems the press forgot and stop having a go at games.

The real issue is a lack of (non feminist-with-a-chip-on-her-shoulder, real, healthy) female gamer opinions (the one above I had to make up lol). That's because there's a lack of female employees.

And to the females of the industry. Whilst all female design studios are nice to see and so forth, you wouldn't like to see the industry do the same for males, and we kinda need you to be part of other studios to make sure there is representation when issues of sex come into to play.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Andrew Ihegbu on 5th February 2014 5:45pm

Posted:8 months ago

#64

Morville O'Driscoll Blogger & Critic

1,576 1,419 0.9
No offense meant, but that's a very confusing reply.
Why, because your gender bias is so utterly skewed that making all the subjects of these female sexualization 'problems' into males would only leave one issue. 'Why are there no females in videogames?'
I honestly don't get this. :/
Every single game you have labeled as 'too sexy' or whatever your barometer for this issue is.
Not too sexy. Pointlessly sexy. Sex for sex's sake. In film terms, every scene where the female lead/secondary character is seen stepping out the shower for no other reason than "Ohhhh, boobs".
The real issue is a lack of (non feminist-with-a-chip-on-her-shoulder, real, healthy)
Why that specific group?
female gamer opinions (the one above I had to make up lol). That's because there's a lack of female employees.
More female employees honestly should not be the only answer. Or, again to rephrase this in TV terms, Joss Whedon can write strong, sexy female characters. Why can't men in the games industry do the same?
Whilst all female design studios are nice to see and so forth, you wouldn't like to see the industry do the same for males, and we kinda need you to be part of other studios to make sure there is representation when issues of sex come into to play.
You could also have men who say to themselves "Oh, I wonder how women could/would perceive this piece of design?"

Edited 4 times. Last edit by Morville O'Driscoll on 5th February 2014 6:34pm

Posted:8 months ago

#65

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