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    Quote Originally Posted by Felon View Post
    The Tomb Raider trailer has drawn flack for showing Lara as being disempowered. It's a kind of catch-22: if you use a female character as something kind of untouchable badass, then some people will say she's plastic and phony. If you show her vulnerable and human, then some will say she's being used as an object for degradation. Not my words, mind you. I like the clip and look forward to the game.
    I have no beef with anything in that clip. The female character is in her underwear, but then she starts out hanging upside down in some kind of cocoon, so there's a reason. It's not particularly sexy underwear, either. She is in trouble and the clip shows it, but that is also part of the storyline. She isn't being depicted as either helpless or totally powerful, which is a good thing in a believable protagonist.


    The Hitman trailer is totally bizarre and uncomfortable. The PVC sex costumes would be weird and out-of-place in their own right, but then they're mixed in with the nun habits. And then to top things off, after the titillation, we get to see slow-mo shots of them being slaughtered. It's not just tasteless, it's downright yucky.
    I have no issue with the violence, but the dominatrix latex fetish wear and high heels in combat was just stupid and gratuitous. Dressing like that for a fight, you gotta expect to get killed. Seriously idiotic, and my suspension of disbelief goes out the window.

 

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    Quote Originally Posted by Felon
    Let me see if I can show a couple of trailers from two different upcoming video games. They have been decried using words like "sexist", "misogynistic", and "disempowering". I'm interested to hear if people here draw parallels and/or distinctions between them:
    I don't think I can speak to what others might find sexist very much, but I can say that both of those have their problems.

    The Tomb Raider trailer focuses a lot on beating up Lara Croft. I get that this is kind of where SquareEnix was going: gritty, survival-style stuff. But any trailer that is showing a continuous beat-down of a girl is going to flash all sorts of alarm bells. It squicks me out a little because it shows that SquareEnix is at least a little blinded by its privilege. They don't get to exist in a world where violence against women specifically isn't a real problem, so they need to be aware of that and pro-actively address that if the concept of the game is "Lara Croft, a young woman, gets her butt kicked for 30 hours or so."

    If she's supposed to rise to heroism (and she certainly SHOULD, given that this is a prequel!), the trailer doesn't show a lot of that. Which, again, is probably part of the point (the rise to heroism is the part you play!), it just makes SE in sort of a catch-22. They're going to be accused of sexism and misogyny, but the burden is on them to make sure that their game ISN'T, even though the preview might suggest otherwise. When what you have on offer is "A girl gets beat up for two minutes," the burden is on you to show that you're not just doing it as a snuff film.

    As for the Hitman trailer, I just don't know why they were dressed like dominatrixes under those habits. Or even why they're all women. But the same idea of privilege exists: they don't get to pretend they are in a world where violence against women is perfectly fine to glorfiy.

    What these both hinge on is that in a world where women and men were completely equal in society, they'd probably be fine (if a little ridiculous in the Hitman case). But we don't live in that world, and to ignore the fact that we don't live in that world risks whitewashing actual problems that the world has. You don't get to pretend you can represent violence against women without a reaction, because your media exists in a cultural landscape that is greater than you, and that cultural landscape right now includes some very problematic gender-based violence.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Felon View Post
    Well, I'm happy that at least somebody replied to that post and shared their thoughts.

    The Tomb Raider trailer has drawn flack for showing Lara as being disempowered. It's a kind of catch-22: if you use a female character as something kind of untouchable badass, then some people will say she's plastic and phony. If you show her vulnerable and human, then some will say she's being used as an object for degradation. Not my words, mind you. I like the clip and look forward to the game.

    The Hitman trailer is totally bizarre and uncomfortable. The PVC sex costumes would be weird and out-of-place in their own right, but then they're mixed in with the nun habits. And then to top things off, after the titillation, we get to see slow-mo shots of them being slaughtered. It's not just tasteless, it's downright yucky. The hate on it pretty universal.
    I just watched both trailers. First of all I am only familiar with the Tomb Raider movies. I am not a video game player. I didn't see her in this trailers as powerless but human and determined to survive. She was not coming across as an experienced powerful action figure but one just starting on that journey.

    The second video I found disgusting.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    The Tomb Raider trailer focuses a lot on beating up Lara Croft. I get that this is kind of where SquareEnix was going: gritty, survival-style stuff. But any trailer that is showing a continuous beat-down of a girl is going to flash all sorts of alarm bells.
    How do you have a female protagonist in a gritty survival story who doesn't take any hits or hard knocks? You can't. If you want to tell that genre of story, your protagonist takes knocks. Doesn't matter if the protagonist is male, female, animal or alien. That could be Lassie getting torn up on his way to rescue Timmie from the well, and it would be the same story. Having a female protagonist who gets knocked around in the course of the story doesn't automatically equate to sexualization, or to anything but a survival story where the protagonist happens to be female.


    It squicks me out a little because it shows that SquareEnix is at least a little blinded by its privilege. They don't get to exist in a world where violence against women specifically isn't a real problem, so they need to be aware of that and pro-actively address that if the concept of the game is "Lara Croft, a young woman, gets her butt kicked for 30 hours or so."
    Except when it DOES get overtly sexual, the femaleness rather than the humanity of the protagonist is a hugely emphasized focus, and the camera lingers on those sequences and those body parts. Sexual violence is certainly gritty realism, but it can be problematic to center a game around or to have the camera dwell on lovingly and extensively. I just don't see any of that happening in this clip, however.

    I don't personally agree with your statement about privilege here, because there is no way to tell a 'hard knocks' survival story without your protagonist taking a lot of them. An extension of what you are saying is that there shouldn't be female protagonists in this kind of story - women don't get to take punishment and survive and become heroes.


    If she's supposed to rise to heroism (and she certainly SHOULD, given that this is a prequel!), the trailer doesn't show a lot of that. Which, again, is probably part of the point (the rise to heroism is the part you play!), it just makes SE in sort of a catch-22. They're going to be accused of sexism and misogyny, but the burden is on them to make sure that their game ISN'T, even though the preview might suggest otherwise. When what you have on offer is "A girl gets beat up for two minutes," the burden is on you to show that you're not just doing it as a snuff film.
    Possibly. I didn't see her as 'a girl', I saw her as 'the protagonist of a hard knocks survival story' and she's at the beginning of that story. She's first level right now. I assume she gets more powerful as the game progresses. I'm okay with her starting at first level.


    You don't get to pretend you can represent violence against women without a reaction, because your media exists in a cultural landscape that is greater than you, and that cultural landscape right now includes some very problematic gender-based violence.
    Excellent point. How far do we have to go in actually *excluding* women from being the heroes in certain kinds of stories, though, if we can't depict them getting hit?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    I don't think I can speak to what others might find sexist very much, but I can say that both of those have their problems.
    If this Lara Croft trailer really has problems for some people, I can safely say there is no way to avoid issues in RPGs, which are often adventure and action-oriented.

    We've been watching the video here a few times and everybody's saying it rocks! I'm being asked what kind of system we could use to play a Tomb Raider-style campaign.

    I wanted to avoid posting anymore on the issue but this is extremely disappointing. More and more, this isn't even about sexism. Like, at all. It's about personal perception and preferences. And diatribes about how we live in an unfair world for women, so as a result, Lara Croft shouldn't take a beating like any worthy adventurer should!

    I'm all for making sure we live in a better world. Improving laws, raising awareness in society, art, etc... those are separate issues and they are worthy causes.

    I'm also all for appropriate games with appropriate art. Banishing exploitative and blatantly distasteful trends in style, art and editorial content of RPGs. Fighting against type. Offering more choice, empowering people.

    But I'm seeing cases that are far from black and white being brought up as issues. And in the case of this Lara Croft trailer, something that boggles the mind. That's sexism? That's a social issue? That's a women issue?

    NO. It isn't. It's about your personal preference. Don't like a resilient female protagonist facing adversity in an exciting adventure? Tough luck, move on! I'd run this kind of setting any day. My female players would love it. I refuse to even entertain the notion that we're part of some insidious trend to subjugate the female gender as a result.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TanithT
    How do you have a female protagonist in a gritty survival story who doesn't take any hits or hard knocks? You can't.
    Sure. But the gender of the protagonist is a loaded choice. I mean, for Tomb Raider, to a certain degree, it's not (Lara Croft is the protagonist!), but for any media object, it always, to a certain degree, is. That's just sort of the reality of the world we live in. Not that it should be, or has to be, or ought to be, but that it is, and someone making a gritty survival story featuring a female protagonist needs to be aware that this is a different choice than making a gritty survival story featuring a male protagonist, and they need to be able to responsibly represent that.

    So the question is: "Why did you choose a female character to tell this story about someone going through this brutal physical punishment?"

    I know that the reason probably has more to do with franchises and licensing than anything, but I also know that the target audience of the game is likely teenage to adult males, and that the franchise they're working with is steeped in cheap sexual appeals. Videogame characters in general aren't cast as weak and pained, but this Lara Croft certainly is, at least for a time. So why her? Why now? How many other similar videogame characters go through such finely-detailed, lovingly-crafted physical pain and suffering? I can't imagine we'd see Nathan Drake in a similar circumstance. Trying something new is great (I certainly applaud most of what they seem to be trying to do), but because this is not a neutral choice, they need to prove their good intentions. They need to show where they can that they are not choosing to put her through this brutal physical punishment BECAUSE she is female. That her femininity doesn't allow them to play with a male player's psychological fears and dreams and insecurities more.

    The game might totally vindicate that perspective. Or it might not. But whether or not it does, SquareEnix needs to walk forward with an awareness that it is a tight rope to walk. People are going to ask: "Why did you choose a female character to tell this story about someone going through this brutal physical punishment?" People are going to ask: "Some of those scenes in the preview remind me of scenes from 'torture porn' films like Hostel. Why did the influence of the series change in tone here from an action-movie, Indiana-Jones feel?"

    Quote Originally Posted by TanithT
    An extension of what you are saying is that there shouldn't be female protagonists in this kind of story - women don't get to take punishment and survive and become heroes.
    It's not that such protagonists shouldn't exist, it's that such protagonists automatically have a different audience reaction, and you can't avoid that, so you need to be aware of it. The reality of the world makes it so that you need to be more careful in doing a videogame about a tormented woman than you need to be when doing a videogame about a tormented man. You can do it. You just need to take extra care to do it well, because if you do it poorly, it's not just bad, it can be DEEPLY wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by TannithT
    Possibly. I didn't see her as 'a girl', I saw her as 'the protagonist of a hard knocks survival story' and she's at the beginning of that story. She's first level right now. I assume she gets more powerful as the game progresses. I'm okay with her starting at first level.
    If one assumes the genders can be swapped without consequence, that's a symptom of privilege as I understand it, no? The choice of gender matters, right? So why did Lara Croft's story need this gritty, brutal chapter about her origin? Why did her Indiana-Jones Action-Adventure story need this hard-knocks origin? Why change the tone? Why does she need to be grittier and more realistic?

    It's entirely possible that it's fine and fun and it'll be harmless. But that trailer didn't reassure me. I don't look at a woman going through suffering for two minutes and say, "That's an experience I want in my living room!"

    Quote Originally Posted by TanithT
    Excellent point. How far do we have to go in actually *excluding* women from being the heroes in certain kinds of stories, though, if we can't depict them getting hit?
    We can. We just have to realize that in the world as it exists now, hitting a woman is not the same thing as hitting a man.

    I mean, in the Hitman (ha!) trailer, there's a lot of women getting hit in all sorts of ways. But because the tone is more action-movie ridiculous, it carries less impact. Yeah, okay, take out those nun-assassin-prostitutes that tried to blow you up. Whatever?

    In the Tomb Raider trailer, because it's closer to "realistic," and because her suffering is more a part of the experience, it's iffier. She's not a nun-assassin-prostitute trying to kill a guy. She's a very human woman in very lovingly-depicted pain. I have to ask, "What purpose does this serve?"

    The game might have a good answer. It might not. But it's going to get the question.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Consonant Dude View Post
    If this Lara Croft trailer really has problems for some people, I can safely say there is no way to avoid issues in RPGs, which are often adventure and action-oriented.
    Agreed, and we risk running into even worse discrimination by NOT being allowed to show women in a fight for their lives. In which they are going to take some hits. Because, fight. Can not fight without hitting and getting hit. Not a difficult equation to parse.


    I wanted to avoid posting anymore on the issue but this is extremely disappointing. More and more, this isn't even about sexism. Like, at all. It's about personal perception and preferences. And diatribes about how we live in an unfair world for women, so as a result, Lara Croft shouldn't take a beating like any worthy adventurer should!
    Absolutely I get that point. I also get that this is a bloody complex issue, and staying aware of the real life bad stuff that deeply shapes women's perceptions and preferences while not over-censoring and whitewashing everything is a delicate balance at best.

    Here's an analogy to think about. Drop gender and replace it with race. Can you tell a story that shows an African-American being enslaved and beaten, and that includes discriminatory language? Yes, you can. Roots was a huge success, and it told a powerful and compelling story about our American history. Which I sincerely hope that no one is proud of, or glorifies, or thinks would be a good idea to repeat. But that's not what Roots did. It did a very good job of telling this story from the protagonist's point of view, humanizing the African-American slaves and telling their human stories.

    What if that same work had subtly or not so subtly glorified or justified or focused more on just beating up black people, dehumanizing them, objectifying them, etc? What if instead of telling the human stories of the protagonists, it focused heavily on the acts themselves, seemingly for their own sake? Maybe not such a good story to tell to folks who actually lived that history.

    We saw the protagonists of that story being beaten and referred to with derogatory language, and struggling with that adversity. What we did not see was a primary focus on those acts of violence or humiliation, to the detriment of the human story of how those men and women courageously stood up to them. So it worked. It was a good story, an inspiring story, a human story.

    The story that got told in Roots was one of heroism and humanity under adversity, not of racial degradation and white on black violence. Even though those latter two elements were a crucial part of the story and were liberally depicted. There is a difference.

    I think we can make a pretty solid comparison between stories that are ultimately about the humanity of the protagonist and their strength under adversity, and stories that are mainly about violence and degradation and that lovingly focus on those sequences to the detriment of telling the protagonist's story.


    But I'm seeing cases that are far from black and white being brought up as issues. And in the case of this Lara Croft trailer, something that boggles the mind. That's sexism? That's a social issue? That's a women issue?
    It's not a black and white issue. I don't think anyone's ever said it was.

    I see no sexism in this trailer, but I do see stuff that might be personally triggering to a woman who has been threatened with violence or who has been the target of violence. At that point we need to ask ourselves whether game manufacturers are responsible for this, or whether individual women who have reason to be sensitized are the ones responsible for not choosing to view things they know will be upsetting to them.

    I don't think there's a single solve-all solution. I do think that clear labeling is a great start, and the video game industry generally does this. If we were talking about a minority of women here, it might be less of an issue, but the percentage of women who are survivors of violence, sexual and otherwise, is insanely, unacceptably high in our society.

    Is this fair? No. Are the game manufacturers responsible for this? Also no. And personally I'd tend to err on the side of more freedom and less censorship, as long as everything is clearly labeled enough to let people choose what they do and do not wish to view. But, and this is a pretty big but, the social condition does exist and it is huge. Being *aware* of it rather than ignoring it entirely is a really good idea, even if you choose to make products that are targeted to a different demographic.

    Some of it has got to be audience, and context. If I'm visiting a household of Holocaust survivors and their immediate family, do I really want to show "Ilsa, She-Wolf Of The S.S." as our evening's entertainment? Er, probably not. Is it okay for the movie to exist so other people can watch it if they want to? Sure. I'm not going to suggest censoring it, even if I'm not going to show it to Holocaust survivors.

    The question gets a little trickier if we're talking about something mass marketed to the general public. Is it a numbers game? Because half the population is female, and a very high percentage of that percentage are survivors of male on female violence, and their fundamental perceptions and experiences have been shaped by the very real fear of that violence, or the actual personal impact of that violence. And that's a real social problem.

    What you're doing by putting a male on female violent game out is still not the same as sticking a Nazi movie in front of a Jewish family who lost loved ones to that regime, because it's a matter of choice. No one has to buy the game if they don't want to, and censorship sucks. It is a heavy price to pay.

    But freedom has a price to pay also. What the game manufacturer may be doing is contributing just a little bit to the general culture of depicting violence against women, normalizing it, making it okay. Does that make it worth censoring? Is it worth setting women's issues above human freedom and choice and censorship issues? I have to say no, it's not, but on the other hand, I do want publishers to be aware that the social issue exists. And that it is very, very huge and personally impactful on not just some women, but very nearly all women. That is all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Kamikaze Midget View Post
    So the question is: "Why did you choose a female character to tell this story about someone going through this brutal physical punishment?"
    Because females have an equal right to be the protagonists in any genre?


    If one assumes the genders can be swapped without consequence, that's a symptom of privilege as I understand it, no? The choice of gender matters, right?
    You make many very good points, but this is actually one I disagree with. I like telling human stories that aren't automatically gendered ones, and when a story can be told that matters and has the same heroic impact whether the protagonist is male or female, I tend to like it a lot better. Because it is the strength, nobility, heroism and humanity that matters in the plot, not whether the main character has an innie or an outie.

    Basically I like it when women are able to do the same things as men, and when gender matters less than ability and personal fortitude.

    Learning to fight in the SCA and in the dojo was sometimes more difficult for me, because male opponents would refuse to hit me or refuse to hit me as hard as they should. It got to the point that I had to take the sifu aside and ask to please not be assigned any more sparring partners from the class, it was totally useless and I wasn't learning anything that way, would the teachers mind just using me as their practice dummy and not pulling their blows any more than was appropriate for a male student in a full contact sparring session.

    The "oh, we just shouldn't hit women under any circumstances" attitude can be pretty limiting and damaging to women, IMO. I didn't pay that much for lessons so I could get less out of them than a male student. And it was annoying as ^%$$@ to sit out SCA fighter practices thanks to guys who refused to spar with me because they wouldn't hit a woman. Or guys who did a deliberately crappy job sparring with me while doing just fine with male partners.

    As far as my own experience goes, that felt a lot more like discrimination than the guys who cheerfully waded in and hit me as hard as they were bloody well supposed to.


    We can. We just have to realize that in the world as it exists now, hitting a woman is not the same thing as hitting a man.
    Correct, and that also has a negative, discriminatory impact on women who actually want to fight.

    Annoyingly complicated issue, ain't it?
    Last edited by TanithT; Tuesday, 19th June, 2012 at 10:59 PM.

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    Hello Everyone,

    We want to thank everyone for his or her advice, criticism and input. Fable Streams is a young company and we are interested in getting everyone’s feedback so that we can learn and grow. One of the releases for our 1 of the 9 launch event noticeably has ruffled some feathers.

    First, we would like to say that it is not our intent to make anyone feel uncomfortable and we take to heart the comments and impact our release has had for many of you. We would like to note that in our minds, the definition of “hot, gorgeous, chicks, ladies, etc.” is what each individual makes it mean. For us, a truly gorgeous individual is one who knows with absolutes what makes her the powerful and inspiring person that she is. We understand that our release may not have been effective in communicating this and in the future we will work to be more inclusive of all.

    We have reached out to many female gamers in the industry to garner input and opinions on various aspects of our efforts. We would love to have more input from the women and the girls interested in creating a better female gaming experience and therefore, if you are interested please send us a message Contact | Fable Streams a message
    We have many things that we are working on and your input is valued and appreciated.

    This may be a great time to ask a question that has come up for us. In our interviews, we asked the question, “How do you prefer someone refer to you? As a women, girl, lady?” We have found that women do not want to be called girls, but girls do not want to be called women, some like to be called ladies and some think being called a lady is creepy, stuffy, odd, funny, sweet, etc. We would be interested to know how you each interpret being referred as a (girl, lady, woman); and does it depend on the gender of the individual that is saying it to you? We have discussions about it in the office all the time. We appreciate any input.

    Second, we are honored that so many individuals have taken the time to do some research on the company. Since last year we have undergone many exciting and new changes. Currently, most information on our Fable Streams and Genesys sites is in the process of being redone. We will be re-launching our sites very soon, just in time for Gen Con and we look forward to everyone’s feedback on that as well.

    Lastly, since we will be announcing our final selections this week we encourage everyone to check back and see who was chosen. In fact, let us know the individuals you think would be a good fit. Though we would never turn anyone away that is courageous enough to cast, we are looking for individuals that are game enthusiasts and embody the personality of the characters.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TanithT View Post
    The "oh, we just shouldn't hit women under any circumstances" attitude can be pretty limiting and damaging to women, IMO. I didn't pay that much for lessons so I could get less out of them than a male student. And it was annoying as ^%$$@ to sit out SCA fighter practices thanks to guys who refused to spar with me because they wouldn't hit a woman. Or guys who did a deliberately crappy job sparring with me while doing just fine with male partners.
    Sorry to take this a little further off-topic, but you got me thinking about my own experiences with martial arts, SCA fighting, and sparring with women. I, like many guys, am naturally hesitant to hit a woman in most circumstances where I would have no issues in hitting a man. Yet, when I practiced karate many (many, many) years ago . . . I was in a "no-contact" dojo, but never had issues sparring with women. When I fought rattan "sword-and-board" not quite as many years ago (but still many), fighting women with the same force as I did men was also never a problem. And I didn't notice it being a problem for others . . . but, as with many men, I wasn't looking for it either and never asked any of the warrior ladies if this was a problem.

    I suppose, like many things, how much sexism exists in a given setting, how noticeable it is to different parties, really can change dramatically on the specific group dynamics.
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