March 27, 2007

IRIS Network on Kotaku, sort of

Filed under:News, Online Communities — Lake Desire @ 9:10 am

The IRIS Network was mentioned by Brian Crecente. He linked Guilded Lily’s post promoting the site, and posted her logo, instead of linking to the IRIS Network directly or posting its logo. GL’s post is great, but she’ll probably be hit by any trolls that don’t make it all the way over to the IRIS Network.

Crecente is giving himself more credit than I’m comfortable with:

But despite the fact that I have a penis and write about gaming, something good came out of that post. In my caveman like attempts at prodding talented, strong-voiced women into writing more vocally about gaming I have stirred the ire of several feminist gaming writers who recently banded together to launch the IRIS Network a group, which will strive to bring women’s perspectives into the mainstream.

Isn’t it interesting he interprets our criticism as us hating him because he’s got male bits? I don’t know any feminists or women-identified people who hate men, although we get pretty darn frustrated when they use their male privilege to be lazy and unaccountable.

Let me say it straight up: tekanji has been working on this project for a year. Yes, Crecente was in part a catalyst for launching the site; she and Revena planned the launch now for the publicity.

The comments on the Kotaku thread are really disappointing. Feminism isn’t about separation, and isn’t just for women. It is about ending all oppression of all people. Saying that “If you want to be treated equal then act equal and stop segregating yourselves” ignores the entire history of institutionalized oppression that still exists today and blames individuals who are systematically disadvantaged. The gaming community exists in that world.

Kotaku commentor iwanttobeasleep makes a good point:

In my experience, a lot of gaming circles are pretty good at segregating themselves. There is still a lot of misogyny in the video game industry, and among gamers, especially online. If these women want to talk about what video games mean to them as women, why dispute that? Would you prefer that they come to general gaming forums and argue about whether female protagonists are eye candy or empowering role models? I’m sure they’d rather have their own space and not have to put up with people telling them they’ve already got equality and should just STFU, just like you all would prefer your game reviews didn’t come with the feminist perspective.

PS. Just because someone visits a site like that doesn’t mean they’re going to avoid interact with male gamers altogether. You can be integrated and still interact with a certain subgroup.


March 25, 2007

What Final Fantasy XI taught me about being a woman

Hello Vana’diel, goodbye real life

I don’t regret going through a MMORPG phase. It was a grand waste of my total playtime of 60 days of my life, but my life as Herbi the mithra shaped who I am today. I started playing Final Fantasy XI when I was 18. It was the spring or summer before I left for college, and my then-boyfriend got a copy of the game’s English beta version. We were both pretty obsessed with Square, so we were giddy to spend our summer in doors.

I’d never played a MMORPG before, and I was frustrated with how long everything took and how set back I was if I decided I wanted to play a different race (I picked a hume female who looked like me–good thing I’m white or I would have been sorry out of luck) or even just change jobs. I hated being a warrior, but kept playing and didn’t want to throw out the time I put into her and start over. When beta ended and retail came out, I was excited to finally have my own account so I could play with my boyfriend. I created Herbi the mithra thief, and he was a little tarutaru named Tofutie. We joined the Midgardsormr server with our other friends from beta, many of whom I continued to play with until I finally quit for good at age 20.

Sex kittens aren’t real live girls

Mithras in FFXI are a race of cat women where males are apparently a rarity. It was a joke that mithras are always played by men, and we called them manthras. A guy cross-dressing for some risk-free thrill was fine, but it was like there wasn’t supposed to be a real, live female subject behind the sex object.

People called me he sometimes, but not as often as I got called dude when I tried out World of Warcraft as a tauren and undead. (Can you imagine calling male characters “she” by default?) In our linkshells and parties, people often were surprised that I was the woman. Tofutie is one of those nice guys who goes above and beyond the rest by being a decent human being. He certainly was a lot more patient with other players than I was. He was a healer–a white mage and eventually red mage, and I switched was a paladin, the tanking class. I absolutely loved tanking, and miss it even now. “What! Tofutie is the dude?” our linkshell friends would say. “Girls don’t tank!”

I liked surprising people. I wasn’t supposed to be an actual girl playing the sex kitten. I wasn’t supposed to be blunt and crude and sexy and after all that reveal that yes, I actually was a real live woman behind the computer. That was just weird. And yes, I did like attention, but who doesn’t like to be rewarded with /praise?

Marriage is for heteros only

We’d do some casual role-playing in FFXI, but Herbi and Tofutie couldn’t get married because they were both women. Even video games have institutionalized heterosexual privileges.

Synth me a pie, bitch!

A friend and I tried to start a linkshell called FemmeFatale for girl gamers. I macro’d an advertisement and dropped it regularly by the auction house. I got mixed praise and criticism. Guys begged to join (some pretended to be women). We did let male-identified people in, which was kind of problematic because it was like a little club of “alright” guys who thought they were super special for not being misogynists or something. (I actually learned the word misogynist from another mithra thief, Nekomasa, that I admired.)

One time, a guy told me that there wasn’t a need for a linkshell for women, and that I should shut up and synth him a pie. I blacklisted him, but I was upset.

The linkshell fell apart when the leader’s in-game boyfriend said he was going to move to live near her. He was 19, she was 13. I found out her phone number and got another player to call her parents and tell them. I still think we did the right thing: no way the power dynamics in that relationship were equal


FFXI put me in situations where people used my gender against me. I used it to stay in a romantic relationship longer than I should have been, although Tofutie was a nice shield from being preyed oncourted by the creeps. And I never did reach endgame, I got too screwed over by other players. But I’d go back. I miss being Herbi and being an honestly good tank and I even miss a lot of the friends I played with. I’d go back and play again if I hadn’t quit to fill my time with studying and novel writing and bike riding and making new friends.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I stopped being so reclusive, stopped dating, stopped being so unfriendly, stopped being so uninterested in school when I quit FFXI.

That’s it for my pithy conclusion.


Final Fantasy XII: Why Vaan

Filed under:Final Fantasy Series, Gender, Privilege, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 9:54 am

I recently started a thread on Final Fantasy XII on The IRIS Network forums and realized why it bugs me so much that the protagonist of FFXII is Vaan, a 17-year-old street kid: entitlement.

The story is told through the eyes of the supposed audience of the game. Even though the plot revolves around Ashe and role in international politics, we see it through a peasant kid. I really do enjoy stories about fighting imperialism told from the point of view of everyday people (hey, kind of like my life), but Vaan never justified why it deserved to be him. He’s got a grudge against the Archadian Empire because it’s their fault his brother died, but so what? Same with Penelo’s family. So of course the main character is a teenage boy. That’s taken for granted. It’s privilege that Vaan can just be the star, no questions asked, without having to prove why he is interesting enough to be the protagonist of the world’s most popular RPG franchise.


March 23, 2007

The IRIS Network: Cerise Magazine Networking Women Gamers

Filed under:Gaming Women, News — Lake Desire @ 2:06 pm

Check this out: The IRIS Network, a community for women and other under-represented gamers (console, computer, and tabletop) to network. Our main publication is Cerise, an online magazine on women and gaming. Cool, eh? Spread the word, register on the forums, and submit stuff to the magazine.


March 18, 2007

Neat! Feminst Gamers Group Blog

Filed under:Gaming Women, News — Lake Desire @ 2:26 pm

There’s a new group blog called Feminist Gamers. I’m sure bloggers Mighty Ponygirl and Moira have been around the blog scene and I’ve just never bumped into them before, but it’s nice to see some new folks writing about games and gender in the same space. Woohoo!


I’m ready for a new layout

Filed under:Site News — Lake Desire @ 10:07 am

I’m ready for a new layout for NG+. I’ve had this buggy thing for almost a year and a half now. Since I don’t know CSS or PHP, does anyone have any suggestions for a nice WordPress theme that fits my site’s themes? I’d like to keep something pinkish, but I also like brown and orange.

And hey, if any of you know how to do layouts, I’d be willing to mail you some vegan cookies or do some editing in return.


March 14, 2007

Yes, women gamers blog!

Filed under:Gaming Women, Privilege, Sexism — Lake Desire @ 9:17 pm

Kotaku accused women gamers of not blogging. 100LittleDolls listed 51 blogs by women gamers.

tekanji originally directed my attention to the irresponsible Kotaku post, On Women and Gaming. According to Kotaku, there aren’t any women game bloggers, and that’s our own fault for not blogging. Crecente wrote:

While I think that strong woman writers who cover gaming are not proportional to the number of women playing games, the bigger issue it seems is that there aren’t a whole lot of immediately recognizable female writers on the net. I think the ones out there now need to be more vocal perhaps, or maybe I’m just not reading the right sites.

He’s right that women’s voices are under represented on mainstream game blogs. As far as I know, there are zero women blogging at Kotaku, and only three out of 20-something at Destructoid. Instead of examining his own site for alienating women (just read the comments to see examples in action), Crecente blames women for not being writers or vocal enough. (Seriously? Since when do nonfeminist guys think being a vocal + woman != bitch?)

I promise it’s not like we’re hard to find. And I for one just don’t want to step out onto sites like Kotaku where I’ll be called an uppity bitch because I don’t suck joystick.


March 13, 2007

I love Yoshi

Filed under:Nintendo DS Lite, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 5:34 pm

I just ordered a used Yoshi’s Island DS copy from Amazon. I have a hankering to throw some eggs, and I can’t find my copy of the original port for my Gameboy Advance. (I hope it’s at my parents’ house!)

I’ve loved Yoshi since back in my single-digit days. I played the heck out of Yoshi’s Cookie on my old brick Gameboy, and I lived for Blue Yoshi in Super Mario World. She had wings!

I know Yoshi isn’t a “girl”, necessarily, but why should we call Yoshi a he? As cool as it is that the dude lays eggs, I think it’s perfectly appropriate to pronoun swap on everyone’s favorite intersexed dinosaur.


March 11, 2007

Game Swap

Filed under:Personal, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 11:26 am

Does anyone want to trade her copy of Yoshi’s Island DS for my copy of Animal Crossing: Wild World?


March 5, 2007

I beat the Lakebed Temple

Filed under:Videogames, Wii — Lake Desire @ 9:52 pm

It’s almost time for finals, which means instead of working on projects or reflecting on the Undoing Institutional Racism workshop I attended this weekend, I sat down with Twilight Princess. See, I’d heard the Lakebed Temple was super hard. I’d been stuck for a month because I couldn’t see the lever I was supposed to jump and pull down to rotate this big staircase. I called my friend Thomas, who is doing a speed-run through the GameCube version of the game right now (it’s the mirror opposite of the Wii TP!) and I was impressed by how quickly he could help me get unstuck. After that, the temple was a breeze. I got through in less than two hours, and didn’t get stuck on anything. I didn’t even see where I could have gotten stuck! What was all that fuss about?