October 8, 2006


Filed under:Feminism, Sexism, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 11:54 am

Mad Gamers.net recently interviewed Geek Woman of WomenGamers.com about being a gamer, writer, and feminist and her book, Geek Woman’s Guide to Gaming.

Geek Woman says:

I can’t say that I can predict what will happen for women in gaming in the future. If the present is any indication then I would predict that nothing will change. Oppression sometimes breeds good things and people get fed up and take back their power. In the gaming world, guys said to us “You aren’t a real girl” or “If you are playing video games you must be the ugliest girl on the planet”. So the women put on their makeup and heels and did photo shoots and said “Hello. We play video games and we are pretty, and smart too.” Unfortunately instead of creating empowerment, it back fired. Real world sex workers and models started calling themselves ‘gamers’ even though they know nothing about games. Then these women began to take the jobs that the real female gamers should be getting. Instead of hiring booth babes, women who are expert gamers and champions should be getting those jobs. If publishers were smart, they would know that knowledgeable people sell more products. Anyone can put on make up and nice clothes and look good for a show. Your own UK Lara Croft is a model, not a champion player of Tomb Raider. When a beauty contest for female gamers was held there were no requirements in it about gaming. Professional models entered the contest, and the two largest female game clans, The Frag Dolls and PMS boycotted the contest.

I find Geek Woman’s pessimism disheartening; I think we do have the power to change things. I’m uncomfortable with criticizing models when they’re players in a greater gamer culture. Who puts on these gamer beauty contests? Who are they serving? Who is treating women like console accessories?

Via Jade Reporting.


August 22, 2006

Feminists and Pink Game Consoles

Filed under:Feminism, Gaming Women, Gender, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 8:02 am

pink ps2

My friend Maladaptive pointed out in her Livejournal that some people are unhappy with the pink PS2 and PSP. I can see the problem some people have with the pink consoles: making something “girly” isn’t going to cut it when we want things marketed towards us, respectfully, as women. I wouldn’t identify all of the Sony critics as necessarily feminist, though. One LJ writes:

the last thing I want is be reminded of my gender

This comment suggests that there is something wrong with being female, like it’s holding us back from being truly good at video games.

As a feminist, I believe people should be able to choose their own gender expression. And enjoying pink is a valid gender expression, but freedom of gender expression means a person should also be able to like or dislike pink without the social meanings we’ve attached to the color. I love pink. I love pink gamer swag: I can be feminine because there is nothing wrong with being girly.


July 2, 2006

First Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans at Written World

Filed under:Feminism, News, Online Communities — Lake Desire @ 7:27 am

The First Carnival of Feminist Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans is out this morning at Written World. Check it out. There’s plenty for us gamer nerds and our intersecting geekdoms. It’s an awesome start to the new biweekly carnival.

I especially recommend checking out Must see video on Who Doesn’t Love Roses. She responds to the Joss Whedon video clip floating around with an analysis on genderbending gamers and an interesting observation: males can play females in games with little fear of physical violence that they’d face in the real world. She writes:

Our hyper-masculinized culture allows (and at times encourages) women to explore the more masculine aspects of their personalities. Women, particularly in work spaces, must negotiate their identities in situations where masculinity is the norm. Men rarely get the opportunity to similarly explore their feminine aspects. It is only in the highly removed and fictional worlds of gaming and science fiction that men are permitted these sorts of explorations.

The next issue of the Carnival of Feminist SF will be at Pretty, Fizzy Paradise on July 16, 2006.


May 2, 2006

Feminist SF – The Blog!

Filed under:Feminism, News, Online Communities, Personal, Science Fiction — Lake Desire @ 10:30 am

I’ve started contributing to a new blog called Feminist SF – The Blog!. I’m writing there under my real name, Ariel Wetzel.

The blog was founded by Laura Quilter of FeministSF.org, and she’s also started a new Wiki for Feminist Science Fiction. I’m planning on adding some entries about video games, but I invite you all to beat me to it.


May 1, 2006

Sora, a Feminist?

Filed under:Feminism, Kingdom Hearts Series, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 2:16 pm

Sora is surprisingly less wanky in Kingdom Hearts 2. He even told Beast to quit blaming Belle for his rose being stollen and that Belle had nothing to appologize for.

Of course, instead of helping Belle get the hell out of an abusive relationship, we’e now off to try and help Beast get is rose back so he’ll learn to be appreciate how Belle is changing him from an abuser to a nice guy.


April 20, 2006

More on Including Women in Gaming

Filed under:Feminism, Online Communities — Lake Desire @ 6:32 pm

I found a wonderful post (through a feminist_gamers discussion) on including women in gaming by zdashamber. In her post, zdashamber identifies a problem with using the internet as place for social dialogue:

[O[n the internet as a whole, every conversation you have is as if it’s done on a stage. The places you go for small group conversations are blogs.

Many a time a person will venture out into the trashing waters of controversy only because they have a solid foundation of support at home on their blog. And making friends and following their blogs allows people to split up controversies. When it comes to feminism and rpgs, for example, I could have a debate every. single. day of the year… But that’s not how I want to spend my time. So if I can instead back someone else who’s covering the most recent thing, it makes me far more likely to not walk off in disgust.

I didn’t realize until reading this that I began speaking about feminism and video games online because my blog created a space where I wasn’t vulnerable. Here, I’m not going to have a dozen angry posters calling a PC feminazi or telling me I’m overreacting for discussing video games and feminism as I might for bringing it up on a message board or IRC channel. This is another point in the case for more online communities for geeky women.


April 19, 2006

Feminist Gaming Manifesta: Identifying Problems

Filed under:Feminism, Gender, Privilege, Sexism — Lake Desire @ 5:01 pm

A feminist gamer manifesta. About damn time somebody wrote one. Part 1 and Part 2 of the Feminist Gaming Manifesto by Matt Wilson. My post here is a response to part 1, which identifies problems in the gaming community and how they’re perpetuated.

I don’t mind that this is written by a man because feminism in theory and practice is ending sexism. Ending sexism shouldn’t be entirely women’s responsibility since we’re already oppressed by it. It is also nice to find more male allies. They’re too few in number.

I like this quote:

The result of that assumption is a set of behaviors that exclude everyone who isn’t considered part of that norm. In the case of gaming, it’s a predominantly white male group, so you end up with the assumption that the ‘normal’ gamer is also male. If that assumption manifests in game texts, rules and communities, then they can all make women feel unwelcome, even though gaming might be an activity they’d really like to participate in. It could be artwork, language in the game texts, the focus of discussions online, specific game rules, verbalized assumptions, even choice of words. Most often the things that provoke those feelings weren’t even intended. Nobody wakes up and says, “today, I’m going to oppress some women.” But when there are unquestioned assumptions at the level of the group as a whole, the results are inevitable. If you just don’t know what does and doesn’t exclude, you can’t easily avoid doing it.

I appreciate Wilson giving guys the benefit of the doubt. Most people don’t want to think of themselves as oppressors, and he’s reaching out to his peers and discussing how they can turn their well meaning intentions away from perpetuating the status quo.

Wilson also identifies many of the responses marginalized people face when raising their concerns (whether gaming or otherwise). I’m going to quote a few of them to add my two cents. On Denial and Minimizing:

Men will respond with comments like, “oh, come on, it’s not unwelcoming, you’re wrong,” or “is it really that bad? I don’t think so.” See, as the predominant group, men get to assume the right to interpret the experience of women and deny the validity of what they say. Then they get to impose their own views upon them, like “really, my game text that you think makes you feel uncomfortable is about this other thing.” If you can deny the problem, then you don’t have to take any responsibility.

I also sometimes hear that my concerns aren’t valid. I should be focusing on domestic violence or poverty or hyper-masculinity or some other “real” problem. This derails the discussion and determines what is valid. Well meaning or not, men are using their power to decide what my interests should be. (On a side note, I never say I’m not involved with other form of activism, although I don’t feel I need to bring up details from my personal life to prove myself to someone who has already intentionally disrespected me.)

On victim blaming:

When women speak up about something in various forums, men will say something like, “I think you’re just not looking at it the right way.” It’s essentially “your problem, not mine” with a polite veneer, focusing attention on the perceived limitations of women. Men are the norm, right? Everything was fine until the women complained. Any problem, then, must be from outside.

I’d like to add that sometimes women are also blamed by being told the problem is their fault. For example, a friend of mine was harassed in an online game. Rather than analyzing if and how the game environment normalizes misogyny, she was told she must have done something to attract the harassment. Want another example? Read comment 12 to Wilson’s post.

Found via Acid for Blood.


March 29, 2006

Gender Inclusive Game Reviews: Your Feedback Please!

Filed under:Feminism, Gaming Women, Gender, News, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 11:27 am

Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful proposes a gender inclusive game review site that reviews video games from a feminist perspective. Kat from The Geeky Feminist will be the head editor and they’d like your feed back over on SVtB’s blog. This is a great chance to get involved in the early stages of development! I’m super excited for the project, I’ve been hoping for a site like this but didn’t have the web skills to start one, and will be participating.


March 26, 2006

Ariel’s Link-o-Rama #2

Filed under:Feminism, News, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 5:42 pm

Some of my favorite game-related blog posts from the past few days:

Killing the Patriarchy with Zoo Tycoon at Den of the Biting Beaver: Because I love seeing video games used as the patriarchy smashing hammer.

Now with less women at The Geeky Feminist: Kat wonders why the already low bar set in Morrowind has dropped in the new game Oblivion.

Ninty-Nine Sexists at Sredni Vashtar the Beautiful: I just discovered this blog through a comment on TGF, and loved the most recent post. Sredni Vashtar analyzses a disturbing offhand comment made by a game developer. I love his closing paragraph:

Any man talking about making games more appealing to women must recognise that the only people who can do that are women themselves. All we can do is use our male privilege to open the doors for them, and be prepared to give up that privilege.

Yay! An ally who gets it.

Guys, sometime’s It’s Just Not About You at Guilded Lilies: GL reminds male gamers it isn’t all about them without ever using the F-word:

[W]hen I am writing about what it means for women playing computer games, I don’t want to have to turn around and make it about men. Men OWN the computer game industry at the moment, and if they are oppressing themselves, I don’t see that as something I need to address – especially since there are so many things I have to say about issues affecting women playing computer games.

Also from Guilded Lilies: This Virtual Space For Rent. GL considers the implications of in-game advertising for women.


February 27, 2006

Reconstructing Video Games

Filed under:Feminism, Gender, Ludology, News, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 1:50 pm

Just as I’m identifying the social body as a type of virtual body for my research paper on the traffic of virtual bodies, I find the latest issue of Reconstruction: Studies in Contemporary Culture is on The Play’s the Thing: Games, Gamers and Gaming Cultures via Academic Gamers.

Articles of interest include Geeks at Play: Doing Masculinity in an Online Gaming Site, More Than Girlfriends, Geekettes, and Gladiatixes: Women, Feminism, and Fantasy Role-Playing Games, and When a Killer Body Isn’t Enough’: Cross-Gender Identification in Action-Adventure Video Games, among lots of other titles.

I’ll review the journal when I can and hopefully report back with my responses to some of the articles.