Women in Games: a rant.

I don’t really understand what the fuss is all about.

Today I read a refreshingly straightforward blog post about what women want in female protagonists. I highly recommend reading it for yourself, but what it boils down to is we want to be portrayed as humans with personalities like any male protagonist is. It really doesn’t seem like it should be a problem, but the comments … oh, the comments.

I eventually navigated to this post through a link that Deputy Editor of the New Staesman Helen Lewis retweeted about what women who are serving or have served in the armed forces think of modern FPS games. (Clicking on THAT link, I warn you, may lead to a tangential path of vaguely related but equally interesting blogs and articles.) Helen Lewis is pretty much a fantastic person all around, but to cover the basics: she’s a smart lady who plays video games and can write and is fortunate to have acquired a tough skin to deal with people who want to push her out of the video game world.

I mention her not just because she led me (somewhat … okay, entirely indirectly) to write this blog today but also because, through her writings, has a law of the internet in her name.

Lewis’ Law: The comments on any article about feminism justify feminism.

I think a large part of the reason that Anita Sarkeesian gets so much hate is because she’s not so great at articulating the things she means to say and she repeats a lot of phrases that come off as antagonistic to members of the boys’ club of which she speaks – she’s by no means wrong, and their comments serve as evidence to her cause, but I believe that her vocabulary rubs her audience wrong, including supporters of her cause.

But as a woman, and as a gamer, (and as an avid player and lover of The Longest Journey series, which everyone should play, featuring one of the richest plots and not one but SEVERAL strong female protagonists), I truly don’t believe that this movement is trying to change something that would negatively affect anyone. The first story I direct y’all to today iterates this point: There’s nothing wrong with sexy. There’s something wrong with immersion-breaking eroticism for the purpose of arousing guys in the hope of attracting more guys to buy the game.

In AP Microeconomics, we recently covered the Production Possibilities Curve model. Stick with me here for a minute. The PPC is a graphical representation of two resources any given business/economy/individual/constructive-in-some-way group can make, what’s efficient and inefficient, and what cannot be done. It shows how many products of X you can make when making none of Y, vice-versa, and every possibility in between. The only way to increase productivity from an efficient point on this graph is an increase in technology or the acquiring of more resources to use.

Female gamers do not want to decrease the quality of games. They don’t want to bring misery to the traditional male gamer. They want better technology and better resources – they want the quality of games to improve. A lot of people on both sides of the debate are throwing punches because they feel like they ought to, but what we’re really fighting for should only positively affect everyone involved. Almost any teenager-father pair who plays World of Warcraft can tell you that dads love playing chicks. While it doesn’t really apply to WoW, because WoW handles gender neutrality/irrelevance very well, that signifies that men could only benefit from more quality female prevalence in games.

And while that’s my strongest point and my English teacher last year would tell me to stop here, I’m going to go back for one more minute. Last Saturday, Helen Lewis wrote this for The Guardian (a prestigious place if there ever was one) defending Grand Theft Auto V for its quality and still stating that she wished it served women better. Even so, commenters continued to attack her for judging only on the women’s side of things what was obviously a “man’s game,” telling her she should have played the game for the game’s value rather than with a feminist eye … and completely ignoring all of the good things she said about it in the article. This is why this issue is an issue. One side doesn’t listen to the other and starts slinging mud, and then we’re all in a huge fight because we’re not even paying attention to the issue we’re fighting about.

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