January 31, 2006

Well, I enjoy being a “girl”

Filed under:Gender, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 11:45 pm

In-game drag seems to be a theme among game journalists lately. Today’s issue of the Escapist includes an article entitled, “I Enjoy Playing a Girl”. I haven’t had time to read it yet, but I would like to point out the article is written by a man and he chooses to use the word girl in the title over female or woman. I hope to dissect the article tomorrow.


January 29, 2006

What about the Models-slash-Actresses?

Filed under:Gender, Sexism, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 4:37 pm

Everyone has been blogging on the E3 “Booth Babes” Ban. I hadn’t yet because Astarte and Tekanji did a fine job of it. Today, Game Politics provided me fodder for my own two centers with an unprofessional defense of the booth babes. Besides defending the exploitation with the tired this is how it’s always been (”they’ve been a part of the E3 landscape forever”), Game Politics claims to have the best interests of the models themselves at heart:

Simply put, the ESA’s ban on “booth babes” at the 2006 E3 Expo stinks. It’s a politically-correct ploy by the video game industry that will have a negative financial impact on the dozens – if not hundreds – of actresses and models who typically work at the show.

So if we feminists really cared about women, we’d oppose the E3 ban because it gives women jobs? The ESA rule reads: Material, including live models, conduct that is sexually explicit and / or sexually provocative, including but not limited to nudity, partial nudity and bathing suit bottoms, are prohibited on the Show floor, all common areas, and at any access points to the Show. ESA, in its sole discretion, will determine whether material is acceptable. I don’t see anything about female models being banned, just restricted from nudity, partial nudity and bathing suit bottoms. Blame game developers for ceasing to hire clothed models, not ESA for taking a step away from alienation almost half the gaming population.


Gaming Parents

Filed under:Gaming Women, Privilege, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 9:31 am

The Entertainment Software Association has released a new study revealing that 35% of American parents play video games.

If the survey is indeed nationally representative, I think that the percentage of gaming parents would be higher if video games were more accessible (I’ve blogged before, games are more readily available to certain people).

Of the gaming parents:

Among these “gamer parents”, 80% report that they play video games with their children, and two-thirds (66%) feel that playing games has brought their families closer together.

I’m happy that most parents who game play with their kids. My mom, blog commenter Liz, was nice enough to let me quote her opinion: “It is a good way to take an interest in what your kid does. Spend time together. Parents need to take more interest in what their kids do. Get involved in their interests, rather than expecting your kid to be a certain way, or be interested in the things that you liked when you were a kid, or succeeded at or didn’t succeed at.” I’m not a parent, but I think just that is one of the reasons my mom and I have such a great relationship.

My mom and I used to play video games together, and she, as far as I can recall, introduced me to them. She stopped gaming around the 16-bit era, but she always showed an interest in what my brother and I were playing. She has surprised the kids at her work by knowing who Sephiroth and the King of the Cosmos are.


January 28, 2006

Being Queer Sexual Harassment in World of Warcraft


Blizzard’s stance was clear that recruiting for a guild using “GLBT” was inappropriate as, the company said, it may “incite certain responses in other players that will allow for discussion that we feel has no place in our game.”

The fact that queer players get harassed in game is a reason there should be GLBT-friendly guilds (well, ideally there should be no harassment, but in until we defeat heterosexism there should be a safe-space). Blizzard is punishing the victims for their harassment, for trying to unite and create a place where players can enjoy the game without people speaking hatefully towards them. I’d hope women wouldn’t be penalized for advertising a female only guild for similar reasons.


January 27, 2006

Virtual Drag

Filed under:Gender, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 1:53 pm

Bonnie Ruberg has written an interesting post for Terra Nova on Virtual Transvestitism. She even discusses the less seen, and considered, women playing male characters.

Ruberg also considers when players are forced to assume another gender role in games:

But what happens when the altering isn’t done by the player? Virtual worlds, chat rooms, and forums all allow users to decide how they appear. In most console games though, character gender is predetermined. In order to play, gamers must fill the gendered skin presented to them. Men become the Samus Aran, blond bombshell. Women become Duke Nukem, a towering muffin of muscle. Is this tranvestitism? Or more to the point, how could it not be? Players have the ability to choose what they play, and they’re choosing to cross gender lines.

I look forward to her future posts on this topic. This is a topic that particularly interests me. It is sometimes assumed that I’m in drag–a man playing a female avatar–in online games. It is something I generally don’t try to correct because I don’t need to prove myself to people I meet in video games.


January 26, 2006

UK Gamers

Filed under:Gaming Women, Gender, News, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 12:53 pm

Gender & Computing and Shrub.com have beat me to this, but there is a new study out on Gamers in the UK.

The study found that 48% of 6-10 year old gamers are female (although they also found that 100% of children in this age bracket play video games… so are there 2% more male children than female in the UK?). 97% of 11-15 year olds play at least once a week, and 47% of those gamers are female. 81% of 16-24 year olds game at least weekly, 44% of those being female.

Percentages do decline slightly with older gamers, with 44% of 25-35 year old gamers being female, but that is still is not a huge gap. 36-5o year old gamers are 45% female, and 48% of 51-65 year old gamers are women.

From the conclusion:

Female gamers display a stronger attraction to certain genres and are searching for their gaming choices across a wider number of platforms, which may indicate a lack of appealing material on the popular consoles.

Imagine how many more females would game, and be more present in less popular genres, if we were given more choices in games.

Once again, a study disproves “women and girls don’t play video games” myth.


January 25, 2006

Reeling ‘em In

Filed under:Site News — Lake Desire @ 11:21 am

Astarte recently looked at what search keywords brought people to her blog and inspired me to do the same. Some of the more quirky ones from this month:



January 24, 2006

Broadening the Audiences

Filed under:Massively Multiplayer Online Games, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 8:12 am

Terra Nova contributor Mike Sellers has written a post entitled Which Broader Market? The post calls for making Massively Multiplayer Online Games more accessible to audiences beyond the perceived single white male with twelve hours a day to devote to a game. Sellers asks:

Do we want a broader market for MMOGs? A lot of people say it, but do we really mean it? And if we do, which market do we mean? Do we mean the growing market of older women players, or of couples playing together, or do we just mean those core gamers whose minds the industry has already captured with consoles (and who have yet to be distracted with actual life)?

Do we want a broader market for MMOGs? I do. The current state of MMOs is elitist. It is a medium of entertainment primarily available, accessible, to that imagined niche that has the money and leisure time to devote to the game. I suggest beginning by making the in-game experience more appealing to “minority” gamers by not drawing them out and isolating them as an anomaly, an other, so the gaming experience will be enjoyable enough for people like us to stick around.


January 23, 2006

Giving Up Being Female

Filed under:Gender, Science Fiction — Lake Desire @ 9:34 pm

Via And We Shall March, LiveJournal user Coffeeem discusses being a female scifi fan:

Like Pam Noles, I inserted myself into the stories I loved. I identified with the brave, resourceful, persevering heroes. When in high school I read Lord of the Rings, it was something like a religious conversion: I was determined to do right whatever the cost, to become the kind of shining hero who would carry the Ring, who would defend Gondor, who would defeat the Dark Lord.

I never felt I couldn’t do that because I was female. Nope. Because at some point, in my mind, I had given up being female.

The post is a response to Pam Noles’s Shame essay and goes on to discuss finding feminism and joy in femaleness through Samuel Delany’s science fiction.

Coffeeem also goes on to treat the Battlestar Galactica miniseries to a feminist anaylsis I don’t necessarily agree with, probably because I’ve watched the characters grow in complexity. Interestingly enough, I remember having a similar impression to the females on the show during the miniseries. I think the actual series has more feminist elements than nonfeminist.


January 22, 2006

Battlestar Galactica and Choice

Filed under:Gender, Science Fiction — Lake Desire @ 11:13 pm

blog for choice

Today is Blog for Choice Day in honor of 23 years since Roe v. Wade. The latest episode of Battlestar Galactica also dealt with choice and gives me a convenient blog topic. The show continues to make me uncomfortable by raising moral issues with no easy answers, and I love BSG for it.

In last Friday’s episode, Epiphany, President Roslin orders Boomer’s pregnancy terminated. (Boomer is a cylon agent–a “human model” created by sentient artificially intelligence gone rogue–that I argue is very much human.) The characters involved are divided in support of the president’s decision, not on whether or not the abortion was moral itself (with the possible exceptions of Helo, the fetus’s human sire, and Six, a cylon with her own motives) but on whether or not it was right to force Boomer to terminate her pregnancy against her will, for the good of the colonial fleet. The colonial fleet, overall, seems to support the right to one’s own body, including the right to choose to keep a pregnancy–an equally important side to “pro-choice.” The gray area is whether or not that right extends to a machine. Again, a very relevant issue to raise with human-machine integration and genetic engineering redefining humanity in contemporary real life.

One thing that bothers me about the episode: Roslin and supporters want to abort Boomer’s fetus because it is an anomaly. Allowing a human-cylon hybrid to exist is dangerous and against the interests of the colonial fleet as a whole. This suggests an irresponsibility towards bringing to term a pregnancy that deviates from “normal.” Parents of children with disabilities are sometimes ostracized for not aborting the fetus if prenatal screening detected a birth defect (I think it is an individuals right to do so if she chooses here, not anyone else’s business). My gripe with this? It further alienates people with disabilities by suggesting they are a “burden” to society and judges whose life is worth living.

(Back-posted because I didn’t have time to finish this yesterday.)