January 27th, 2011
Games are sexist. Roleplaying games are sexist. Video games are sexist. Massively multiplayer online games are sexist. Not all of them, not always, but way too many and way too often.
Before we can talk about this, we need to establish something. You’re not a bad person. I mean that. You, personally. You’re not a bad person, and the fact that I’m angry about this does not mean that I think that you are. This is not one of those times when you need to defend yourself.
That’s the problem, though: every time we start to talk about how to make games less sexist, we end up with an argument about whether we should be having the discussion, or whether the issue’s even relevant.
So, in the interests of being able to constructively discuss gender problems and gaming in the future, I’m going to address some of those arguments here in the past. My friend the straw man will provide some arguments in bold, and I’ll respond by setting fire to him.
“Women don’t play games.”
Women do play games. They play games in different types and numbers than men. This doesn’t mean that female gamers aren’t out here. They are… and the sadly hilarious thing is, they’ve been here the whole time. Sit outside the treehouse with a “No Girls Allowed” sign and all you’re doing is ignoring that there are ladies inside painting Tyrranids.
“But they’re a minority.”
That’s what happens when you start splitting a set into subsets. Some are generally bigger than others. That doesn’t mean some subsets don’t exist. There are fewer 3s in a deck of cards than other cards. That doesn’t mean I should be designing my game without 3s in it.
“People can’t agree on what’s sexist, so there’s no point in trying not to be sexist.”
You know what else people can’t agree on? Computing platforms. Somehow, they manage to throw Comdex and make new, more awesome computers every year anyway. Android 3.0 is still going to be really cool even though a lot of people won’t like it as well as iOS 5. We can make things better even if we can’t agree on perfect.
“Feminism is over.”
So’s Nextwave. ‘SPLODE!
“We should be focused on gameplay and story, not gender.”
We’re capable of thinking of more than one thing at once.
“Or, rather, we should be focused on a quality product, rather than one aimed at pleasing a particular demographic.”
Sometimes, people create things without caring what other people think. Most times are not that time. The audience isn’t any more dead than the author.