January 19, 2006

Lurking Behind the Cat-girl

Filed under:Gaming Women, Gender, Massively Multiplayer Online Games, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 11:29 pm

Utopian Hell commentor Rebecca E brings up race in Final Fantasy XI. I play FFXI seasonally (that is, when I have access to a PC to play it on), so I found this interesting:

[...] FFXI has a race that is primarily eye-candy; the Mithra cat-girls (only females are playable), who also have the unfortunate inability to wear pants except for in a few job choices. The first character I played was of that race, and people tended to assume I was male—and still do, even though I’m now playing a Hume female (whom I recently realized, to my dismay, isn’t wearing pants at the moment, either—her boots were tall enough that I couldn’t see the skin between them and her tunic).

I also play a mithra in Final Fantasy XI. I picked the race over two years ago, when US retail was released, for the statistics. I wanted to be a thief, and mithras have the highest agility and dexterity in the game. Plus, I thought they were cute.

I used to play with a male partner who also played a female character, the asexual tarutaru. He usually found players for us to group with and set up missions, but in actual battle I was the one taking charge, barking out orders, and scolding people for being wankers. His character was a white mage, and especially when I started tanking people always assumed I was the “man in the relationship.” I was perceived as an anomaly, playing the protective, sexy meat-shield while he was the nurturing healer.

I only play occasionally now, and with no offline friends, and encounter (or just am more attentive) to flirty behavior. “Hey, that’s cool a girl plays this game,” or the more noxious, “Be a good kitty and I’ll give you some cat-nip.” I guess I’m not entirely free of internalized feelings of being nice and agreeable, so I don’t always feel like being “bitchy” and reminding these guys I am not playing FFXI to meet someone to date (although I probably should). Instead, I draw an arrow < — towards my name and write “manthra”, which is slang for a man playing a mithra. I’m usually left alone, after a response like, “Aww, it figures.”


Babes in Geekland

Filed under:Feminism, News — Lake Desire @ 9:18 am

Emma of Gendergeek has announced the topic for the next Carnival of Feminists: Babes in Geek-land.

The entirely optional theme for the upcoming carnival is Babes in Geek-land, by which flippancy we mean the act of women occupying, and operating within, traditionally male-dominated arenas. Examples of these might be economics, computing and technology, sci-fi, gaming, politics, cinema direction, and golf.

My response: YESSSS! The hard part? Deciding on one topic for my submission (well, two, because I’d like to write something for Tekanji), since my geeky interests are aplenty. Anyone have any requests?


January 18, 2006

Carnival of the Feminists Issue 7

Filed under:Feminism, News — Lake Desire @ 7:24 am

The seventh Carnival of Feminists is out today, hosted at Feministe. The issue theme? Feminism and pop culture!

My post on Logan’s Run is my submission. Via the carnival, I also found another response to Pam Noles’s essay on a blog that is new to me, Metrokitty.

I’m still wading through the carnival (it’s a big issue!) and having a grand ol’ time reading it. You should, too.

Speaking of carnivals, I’ve been meaning to link to the call for submissions for the first
Carnival of Fatty Goodness


January 17, 2006

First Yaoi PC Game Ported for US Market

Filed under:News, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 6:44 pm

Via Kotaku, Enzai: Falsely Accused will be the first yaoi game to be released in English for gamers in the United States. I’m not a huge follower of yaoi (Japanese male/male homosexual mangas, games, etc.), but I’m happy to see it becoming more mainstream because it allows women a realm to explore, and dare I say control, male sexuality.


January 16, 2006

Same Old in Nightstud

Filed under:Race, Sexism, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 1:52 pm

I apologize for the quiet weekend; I was refraining from blogging as a motivation to write a school paper. I found a link to a game called Nightstud on Sex & Games a few days ago but accordingly refrained from critiquing the game’s webpage (alas, I’ve no desire to actually play it) to use as a reward for finishing my school assignment. And to think, most people probably rewards themselves with dessert or a few hours of gaming.

Right away, the description of the game has me bristled. From the description of the game:

Your objective in the game is to be the top stud, or by other words:

To have sex with as many women as you can

And for that you will have to go frequently to local Bars and Discos to pickup women. In each game mission you will have different goals, like having sex with a number of women, sex with virgins or celebrities, have a certain amount of cash or reputation points in a specific time limit. You will start each game mission with just a couple of dollars in your pocket but many expectations to be the local top stud!

Okay, so the game is for heterosexual men–like most games. But few so blatantly illustrate the unequal power in the current paradigm of heterosexual relationships in a patriarchal, white supremacist society. The game is supposedly about “satisfying women” (they pay the player after he has sex with them), but it is really reinforcing the slut/stud double-standard. Certain “types” of women are sought to be conquered. Virgins and celebrities are more challenging and hold more prestige when they are “won.”

From the game’s list of selling-point features:

  • Different kinds of women: Blondes, Latins, Brunnetes, Orientals and Blacks
  • I’m assuming from the heteronormity and androcentricity of the webpage the “blondes” and “brunnetes” are white while women of color get divided into their own categories, equated with hair color in whites, as people to be collected like they are Pokémon.

    And speaking of catching them all:

  • Medical Clinic where you can make penis enlargement operations, treat STD diseases and restore health
  • STDs are an acknowledged risk of this “studly” lifestyle (in reality, this is hardly the only “type” of person to catch them), but written off as easily treatable by a visit to the doctor. (Not to say that people with STDs can and do enjoy healthy, safe sex lives.)

    I’d like to see a game featuring sex that doesn’t continue to spread misinformation or reduce women to objects to be collected.


    January 13, 2006

    Run, Logan, Run!

    Filed under:Gender, Race, Reviews, Science Fiction — Lake Desire @ 11:24 am

    My cyborg anthropology course has an adjunct, one-credit film class called Folk Science in Film where we meet weekly to watch and discuss scifi films through an anthropological lens. We’ll be watching Equilibrium, Ghost in the Shell 2, Star Trek: TNG Best of Both Worlds I & II (the episodes where Picard is assimilated by and deborged.), Crash (the old one), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, and Gattaca. (Offline friends: guests are welcome, so send me an E-mail for the time and location.)

    Last night we started off with Logan’s Run, a classic scifi cheeseball from 1976. In 2274, people live in a dome and are are summoned to a die at age 30. They go willingly into the carousel, before a peppy crowd of their peers, for a chance at renewal. Logan is a sandman, a police officer of sorts who hunts down “runners” who try to flee the city instead of going to carousel.

    My brother’s name is Logan, so that was reason enough to eagerly watch the film when it came on television. I was frightened by the carousel (I couldn’t go on merry-go-rounds for years) nor bring myself to watch the movie again until I was a teen. This was my first time moving beyond filling the plotholes to actually analyze the movie.

    Pam Noles’s essay, Shame, was still fresh in my mind when I watched the film. She noticed, as a little girl, that there were no people of color in Star Wars. Logan’s Run was released a year earlier, so I wasn’t really surprised the only person of color any of my class spotted in the film was a black man with an afro and bright gold bracelets, in a crowd shot. We’ve got one token person of color, the black man, for the entire “utopia.”

    No surprise, my 21st-century, radical feminist gaze took note of the gender roles in Logan’s society (or 1970s Hollywood?). The sandmen are all men, and the only other characters who actually have “jobs” beyond looking pretty are a plastic surgeon at “new-you” and a ditzy female assistant who has difficulty doing more than act sexy (ironically, it is the female heroine Jessica who rescues her). Besides Logan, all of the clients at new-you lobby are women–because women are the ones who care about staying young.

    Earlier in the film, Logan flips through a teleporter “circuit” to find a lover for the night. A man appears first, and Logan shakes his head in disapproval and moves on to meet the heroine, Jessica 7. When she refuses his advances, he asks her if she’s a lesbian. Logan’s buddy shows up with a woman on each arm and Jessica slips away. Logan ponders at her absence for a moment, but is quickly distracted when the two willing women jump on him.

    Logan forces Jessica to return later because she won’t come to see him willingly. He tells her she’s the most beautiful woman he’s seen and he won’t force her to have sex with him. He’s giving her a choice about what to do with her body. Whether Logan’s authority comes from his job as sandman or simply because he is male is unclear, but sandmen are only men. In a film released three years after Roe v. Wade, women’s freedom to choose is a privilege granted by men. This strikes very close to real life where women’s freedoms to choose–from voting to reproductive choices–have been given, and particularly the later teeter dangerously close to being taken away.


    Sex in Video Games Conference

    Filed under:News, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 8:42 am

    Via Sex & Games, on June 8 and 9, 2006 will be the first Sex in Video Games conference.

    Although the conference itself is in San Francisco, some of their other new Evergreen Events happenings are in Seattle and I could potentially attend.


    Call for Submissions: Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy: An Encylopedia

    Filed under:Feminism, Gender, Literature, News, Science Fiction, Writing — Lake Desire @ 12:18 am

    Via Academic Gamers, there is a call for contributors for the up-coming, illustrated two volume Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy: An Encyclopedia.

    The 2-volume, illustrated Women in Science Fiction and Fantasy: An Encyclopedia is scheduled to be published by Greenwood Press in 2007. The Editor is seeking contributors for unassigned entries. The focus will be primarily but not exclusively on work in English from the 19th century to the present, covering fiction, nonfiction, film, television, art, comics, graphic novels, music and poetry.

    Volume I (175,000 words) will consist of essays. The longer pieces will provide socio-historical context, analysis, and background information on key themes that cross genre boundaries. Two possible schemas are being considered for this volume. The final editorial choice will depend to some extent on the scholarship and interests of the chosen contributors. One approach is multi-genre essays, tightly focused in period. An alternate approach is single-genre essays covering larger historical periods. Scholars chosen to write essays are invited to do some of the A-Z entries relating to their essays.

    Volume II (175,000 words) will consist of the A-Z component. Alphabetically organized entries will focus narrowly on key figures and issues. Categories, which can apply to any of the media covered by the work, will include (but are not limited to): single entries on significant writers/artists/composers (primarily women but some men); group and background entries on a range of writers/artists/composers not covered in single entries; and single and group entries on characters and character types, genres, historical periods, national traditions, and major themes.

    More details.

    I’ve already something exciting to look forward to come 2007. An encyclopedia is a much needed addition to an area that has been paid too little interest.

    Cross-posted on Feminist Fantasy and Whileaway


    January 11, 2006

    More on Whitewashed Scifi/Fantasy

    Filed under:Gender, Literature, Race, Science Fiction — Lake Desire @ 6:05 pm

    My internet has been down more than up recently, so I’m relying on the university’s computer labs and wireless to get online. (Don’t fret, I’m changing providers. Thank goodness we have not one but three high speed internet options in my city.) Since my internet outage interrupted the World of Warcraft post I was brewing up, in consolation (this is better, really–I wish I’d seen it before I wrote my Race and the Future post) I bring your attention to Pam Noles’s essay Shame on bonding with her dad over scifi movies:

    I remember Dad saying, how come you never see anybody like that in the stories you like? And I remember answering, maybe they didn’t have black people back then. He said there’s always been black people. I said but black people can’t be wizards and space people and they can’t fight evil, so they can’t be in the story. When he didn’t say anything back I turned around. He was in full recline mode in his chair and he was very still, looking at me. He didn’t say anything else.

    When Noles was a little girl, not finding characters like herself made her think people like herself were incapable of being the heroes. It’s disheartening to see something I love so much–scifi and fantasy–contribute to internalized oppression, and it isn’t just race.

    I don’t know firsthand what it is like to be marginalized by the things I enjoy because on my race, but I do because of my gender–and feminism has shown me how the two are very interwoven (and not to try and measure which oppressions are “worse” than others). When I was a little girl, so many of the books and television programs and video games I enjoyed featured one token female, if any, that was a one-dimensional stereotype. She was into her looks or flirting, and I couldn’t identify. When playing make-believe with friends, I lived through the male characters. They were complex characters in their own right, defined by more than their gender, and I could identify with their strengths. They felt like real people, not paperdolls.

    Noles’s discovery of A Wizard of Earthsea is really touching:

    And because Le Guin snuck up on it, let us thrill with Sparrowhawk as he made his way, the Revelation came as a shock. I do remember bursting out into tears on the living room couch when I understood what was going on. And the tears flowed again when Mom came home from work and I showed her the book while trying to explain. Sparrowhawk is brown. I think he’s like an Indian from India. And Vetch is black like from Africa. There’s a bunch more and they have real power. Not the girls, though. But still they are also the good guys. It’s the white people who are evil. And Sparrowhawk is also Ged, and he’s going to be the most powerful one of them all, ever.

    Her experience is reminescent of the times I found a character I really identified with, a strong person like me in the fictional worlds I loved.

    And my last favorite bit:

    Le Guin’s racial choices in “A Wizard of Earthsea” mattered because her decision said to the wide white world: You Are Not The Whole Of The Universe. For many fans of genre, no matter where they fell on the spectrum of pale, this was the first time such a truth was made alive for them within the pages of the magical worlds they loved.

    Yes! I love Le Guin for it, and strive to remind myself that as I catch myself enacting on my privilege to be oblivious to race.

    I suggest reading the essay. I really can’t do it justice, especially to Noles reaction to Star Wars as a girl and her critique of news media for ignoring the whitewashing of the Earthsea miniseries.

    Via Whileaway, which also alerted me to Invisible Universe: a history of blackness in speculative fiction that I can’t wait to see.


    January 9, 2006

    Change in Direction

    Filed under:Science Fiction, Site News — Lake Desire @ 12:04 pm

    I’m officially a senior at my university this quarter which means my usual over-achieving course-load is growing more demanding. In favor of multitasking and shifting interests (before I exhaust all I have to say about video games) I intend to start blog on a wider variety of topics (hence the recent scifi related posts). I am taking cyborg anthropology, and I’m sure the class–and our weekly adjunct scifi movie night–will provide plenty of blog fodder. We did talk about MMORPG economics on the first day of class.

    Speaking of scifi films, there is a discussion on Whileaway about the Alien movies.