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Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia Out of Gaming 704

Posted by Soulskill
from the can't-we-all-just-get-along dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A central theme for several talks at this week's Game Developers Conference has been how to deal with the abuse generated by a small segment of gamers. BioWare's Manveer Heir says he wants the industry to stop being scared of challenging the most outspoken and vituperative members of the gaming community. His GDC talk focused on 'misogyny, sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, nationalism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia and other types of social injustice.' He said, 'We should use the ability of our medium to show players the issues first-hand, or give them a unique understanding of the issues and complexities by crafting game mechanics along with narrative components that result in dynamics of play that create meaning for the player in ways that other media isn't capable of.' Meanwhile, Adam Orth, who became the center of an internet hatestorm last year after an offhand comment about always-online DRM, said game developers should make an effort to encourage their playerbase to behave in a more civilized manner."
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Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia Out of Gaming

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  • by ackthpt (218170) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:50PM (#46547417) Homepage Journal

    That's the quickest way.

    • by JustNiz (692889)

      He's talking about the messages baked into the game by the developer, not those from the interactions with other players. He's also not limiting his comments to multi player games.

      • by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:06PM (#46547541) Journal

        Down that path lies perdition. I'll explain:

        The moment you start "cleaning up" the design and atmosphere of a game, you open the door to censorship, even if self-imposed.

        While ordinarily clearing such things out of a given game is, on the surface, a laudable goal, there's one great big problem: There is no objective definition and delineation of terms like "mysogyny", "racism", or "homophobia". I have seen people called "racist" point-blank because they disagreed with the president's policies, or called "homophobic" because they believe homosexual activity to be a moral wrong (though not a crime, or cause to hate someone, or etc).

        Given this, first, okay, you clear out the obvious stuff. But then some loudmouthed political action group starts squealing about things which kinda-sorta-might-count, but likely don't. Next thing you know, you're having to nerf the game entirely, and are stuck with an ever-decreasing list of genres, or wildly inaccurate ones just to satisfy the perpetually-offended.

        Screw it - let the market decide: If a game is truly offensive, word will get out and it won't be bought, leading to its failure. No one is forcing anyone to buy a given game, FFS.

        • PS: (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:08PM (#46547559) Journal

          Seriously - would anyone have even bothered with titles like DOAX or Duke Nuke'Em if it didn't have the content it had?

          They both sold like effing mad... I'll leave it up to the reader to decide why they think that is.

          • huh? (Score:3, Insightful)

            by Fwipp (1473271)

            Yes, the "market" is going to magically erase misogyny in gaming, because here's these games that sold super well for being misogynist.

            • Re:huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Penguinisto (415985) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:14PM (#46547603) Journal

              ...neither of them stack up to "Leisure Suit Larry". Funny thing is, I know of more women who bought that particular game then men, mostly because it was funnier than hell.

              But then, the ladies in question weren't overly-sensitive professional victims, either.

              • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

                *sigh* Why does Slashdot always seem to miss the point?

                Games like the Larry series are mostly fine. They are done in good taste, genuinely funny and enjoyable for both sexes. The problem, as TFA points out, is with the relatively small number of people who play online games and spew racist, homophobic and misogynistic abuse. As the GP points out you end up blocking all chat to get rid of it. Why can't I play COD4 online without being called a fag?

            • Is it really something that needs eliminating? I'm reminded of that time Mr. Garrison said he doesn't trust anything that bleeds for five days and doesn't die. It's a joke, and it's funny.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Heir’s argument went on to debunk studies which claim that games with female protagonists are doomed to have poor sales. He said that he believes such studies, including one which Polygon’s Ben Kuchera published during his time writing for the now defunct Penny Arcade Report, rely on "cherry-picked, inconclusive data."

        "When a game starring a woman comes out," Heir said, "the marketing and the development spends are simply less, which can overall impact the quality of the game and [its] success, which skews the numbers in the negative."

        Screw this. If there's a woman in the game, she better be hot or I'm not buying the game. These guys are selling fantasy. I want my fantasy hot and sexy, otherwise I'll go watch porn and not bother with the stupid game play, or obnoxious time-sink quests or the obnoxious early teen goofs who get off on being jerks. My life is full of more than enough reality, I want to buy some misogyny and sexism, not some PC-BS. This is what keeps me sane and provides a catharsis so I don't do this stuff in real lif

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ackthpt (218170)

        He's talking about the messages baked into the game by the developer, not those from the interactions with other players. He's also not limiting his comments to multi player games.

        How about we just play a bunch of movies and commercials from the good ol' days (1950's and before) where this sort of stuff was the norm.

        look kids, a woman, and see how happy she is with a new vacuum cleaner!

        • by russotto (537200) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:13PM (#46548027) Journal

          How about we just play a bunch of movies and commercials from the good ol' days (1950's and before) where this sort of stuff was the norm.

          AMC did that, they called it "Mad Men" and women loved it. Go figure.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by epyT-R (613989)

          As opposed to today's commercials and tv programs where she's the 'empowered' bitch and he's the insipid, incompetent little pantywaist? I fail to see the improvement. When she does it, she's 'empowered', and when he does it, he's a bastard... such 'equality'.

      • by mjr167 (2477430) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:35PM (#46548151)

        If we are to claim that games are an art form akin to books, movies, poetry, music, and painting, then we have to accept that art often is designed to make us uncomfortable. Often, an artist calls attention to an issue by exploring it. For example, you have a gay protagonist who struggles with his own inner lack of acceptance and self-confidence as well as fears of how society views him. You include a scene where the gay guy gets beat up because he is gay. A successful artist would establish empathy between the character and the player, causing the player to question the moral implications of the scenario. Maybe he was ok with beating up gay guys before, but now he has established a bond with this character and thus becomes uncomfortable with the scene and questions long held beliefs?

        It is not about turning the games into something like Sesame Street or Magical Friendship Land where we watch everyone get along. The stories that resonate the deepest with us are the stories that hit the closest to home. It is ok to portray the struggle of social injustice. To try to pretend that it does not exist is foolish and will not send a message other than "look how PC". Instead it is about creating a story that feels real, causes us to empathize with the characters, and thus question our own personal prejudices.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          I gather at least some of the complaints about the game industry is that the scenario you've outlined doesn't ever happen. Instead, openly gay characters are rare to the point of nonexistent in games. The closest we come is the androgynous characters of Japanese-made games. On rare occasions, one of those androgynous characters turns out to be a gay guy—in the Japanese version. When the game is translated for the US audience, somehow that aspect of the character mysteriously vanishes. Similarly,

      • GP's solution..."Disable player chat" is a classic example of "throwing the baby out with the bathwater"

        It's a problem in our industry, thinking this way, b/c it's ridiculous. Turning it off isn't a "fix" and it never will be.

        I don't know about TFA...but as you say:

        He's talking about the messages baked into the game by the developer, not those from the interactions with other players. He's also not limiting his comments to multi player games.

        I'm saying it's all part of the same thing. idk, maybe you and TFA

    • by Simonetta (207550) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:30PM (#46547715)

      " His GDC talk focused on 'misogyny, sexism, racism, ethnocentrism, nationalism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, queerphobia and other types of social injustice.' "

            Boy, this one is a challenge. Wish I had Will Shortz here to help. But I'll do the best I can:
      Capital Crime: Example in a game comment:
      misogyny You dumb fuck, you fight like a girl
      sexism You dumb chick, you don't fight worth a fuck
      racism You fight like a white boy.
      ethnocentrism You fight like a French white boy.
          nationalism You fight like a French white boy. USA, fuckin' A!
        ageism You fight like an old French white boy. USA, fuckin' A!
      ableism You fight like an old French white boy in a wheelchair. USA, fuckin' A! ,
      homophobia, You fight like an old French faggot white boy in a wheelchair. USA, fuckin' A! ,
        transphobia You fight like an old French faggot white boy in a wheelchair who dropped her dick on the floor. USA, fuckin' A!
        queerphobia You fight like an old French faggot white boy in a wheelchair who dropped her dick in his boyfriend's asshole. USA, fuckin' A!

      Did I miss anything?

      • by ackthpt (218170)

        How about former governor of California, Ahnold, who referred to legislators as "girlie" men? I wonder how the women in the legislature felt about that. Probably not particularly enamored with the governator. Certainly enough in the electorate were willing to overlook it. :-|

        It's not just games, but cultural and it comes up all the time, thing is, most people's detectors don't go off because they aren't attuned to it being offensive.

  • Never gonna happen (Score:4, Insightful)

    by kruach aum (1934852) on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:56PM (#46547451)

    Haters gonna hate. Bigots gonna bigot. 13 year olds gonna 13-year-old.

    Not until bigotry makes your appendages explode will this ever end. And maybe not even then.

    • by maz2331 (1104901)

      Various social engineers have been trying for decades to change human nature. It hasn't worked in the past and it won't work in the future any better than attempting to change cats into vegans would. Even if they manage to suppress the expression of the thoughts in one place, it just pops up elsewhere, or worse, festers into a sudden explosion of rage.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      The goal isn't to eradicate bigotry, but to lessen it as much as we can. By that measure we can, and we have succeeded. Yes, there will always be more work to do. But, overall, the world is a better place today than it was centuries ago if you are a woman, racial minority, and/or LGBT. The question is not "can we create a utopia." Obviously not. But can we make the world better than it is today? Yes, absolutely.

      How? We do it by ignoring comments like yours, and working at it anyway. Your comment isn't just

    • Not until bigotry makes your appendages explode will this ever end.

      Well, it is a game...

      "There's some faggot lurker on pad 3."
      (*BOOM*) Player's arm explodes.

      Even better if you're playing with a bunch of Brits.

      "Hey, enemy player guy! What do you brits call cigarettes?"
      "Fags."
      (*BOOM*) Enemy player guy's leg explodes.
      "Ha ha!"

      • Now that's a good idea. Use voice recognition, and punish them in game.

        • It seems like a good idea, until you realize that they will use it for Griefing - they will just run up next to you then yell the forbidden word as they give you a death hug and the satellite laser (or whatever) strikes them - and you.

          Or just when you are about to kill them they will issue the word and "escape".

          There are lots of ways to abuse a punishment system to those that are truly warped, and just looking to abuse the system in whatever way is possible.

  • it's called Stoicism
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:05PM (#46547519)

    We don't call it "race-phobia" or "men-phobia" or "women-phobia", the labelling of disagreeing with an accusation of fear (homo-phobia) does not allow the conversation to begin on a level of mutual respect, where people merely have disagreements on personal behavior.

    Race and gender are not behavioral, but physiological facts, and therefore subjective debates easily point out a subject bias against an unchangeable reality. But it seems _any_ disagreement with homosexuality is instantly labeled as "hate", and I propose it's partly because of the fear label associated with disagreement.

    No one expects a racist Nazi to love black people, but we absolutely expect them not to attack them. And we even enforce free speech laws that allow these people to openly run organizations that support racial superiority.

    But with homosexuality it's the reverse, there is a movement to force a belief change and acceptance of another persons beliefs. Without honest objective discourse, emotionally biased labels and arguments will suppress disent that even Nazi's don't suffer under.

    This social group (slashdot) espouses scientific disagreement as a basis for learning. I propose we start hearing both sides of the arugment about sexuality objectively, apply the doctrine of tolerance equally and remove the subjective and biased label of "homophobia" to those they merely disent.

    • Oh, that's easy (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Fwipp (1473271)

      So, if instead of saying homophobia, I said heterosexism, all my arguments would instantly be valid? Weird that you're hung up on a word you don't understand the meaning of.

      We enforce free speech laws that allow the Westboro Baptist Church to protest, don't we? Why is that "the reverse" of protecting racist Nazi's?

      Oh, you mean that you want to be able to shit on other people, and face no *social* backlash? That doesn't work for Nazis, either, sorry.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Race and gender are not behavioral, but physiological facts...

      Your argument is horribly flawed. Sexuality is also a physiological fact in an adult, how it forms is still being investigated but the brains of gay and straight women and men can be scanned to show differences. Nazis are racist by choice whilst homosexuals are not gay by choice because really, there are few reasons to choose it and many not to; why would you choose to be gay in a country like Uganda or Russia where you're likely to be killed because people are afraid that you'll cause all sorts of ills to

    • by Jmc23 (2353706)
      Race does not exist. Nice kool-aid you've got though.
    • No one expects a racist Nazi to love black people, but we absolutely expect them not to attack them. And we even enforce free speech laws that allow these people to openly run organizations that support racial superiority.

      And we also look down on them and pity them for how pathetic they are, and many of us with they would die or at least stop breeding, all the same stuff that people have to say about gays that they would like us all to respect as a valid view. Well, that's not going to happen, so just build a bridge and get over that motherfucker. Homosexuality is older than any religion or indeed belief system with us today, it's not going anywhere — your belief system is.

      This social group (slashdot) espouses scientific disagreement as a basis for learning. I propose we start hearing both sides of the arugment about sexuality objectively,

      Objectively, the idea that some people's sexuality is okay and other people's sexuality isn't when neither group is harming the other is subjective, and therefore fails your own test. Go away and do not troll us a second time.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      I could pick apart the entire post, but I think this is the core of the discussion:

      apply the doctrine of tolerance equally

      If we were doing this, we wouldn't be having conversations about homophobia and bigotry.

      Your entire post is very well written, but essentially boils down to "tolerate the intolerance."
      The only proper response to that is "No."

  • Morals & DRM (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:07PM (#46547545)

    I play games for fun, not morals. Your beliefs about a moral actions may not be other's so adding your "correct" action in a game then give rewards for the right" choice is just another way of enforcing your beliefs on others.

    For example I believe Homophobia is wrong, I have a right to stop someone else who is hurting another either physically or verbally, But I do not have the right to force the attacker to change his/her views, they are his/her choices and he/she believes them to be right just as he/she doesn't have the right to make me join in.

    And everyone I know hates DRM's not for the fact they stop piracy (kinda) but as yet no DRM has been seamless. Frequent disconnects, ridiculous sign-up's (eg making a live account) The inability to access some content offline or even unable to play the game at all offline. We live in a world when you can't always be online, esp if you live in rural area or have bandwidth limitations. So hate about DRM's is completely justified, if you want to stop piracy look at why people pirate games, not some lackluster attempt at stopping them, you won't win, so far every DRM has been breached.

  • by Scowler (667000) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:11PM (#46547579)
    If you ban a player for a short interval, it's not enough to dissuade bad behavior. If you choose a long interval, they just join the game under a different player name. In essence, if a player's behavior has already deteriorated to the point of needing a ban, the battle is already lost.
  • Don't buy it then (Score:3, Insightful)

    by geekd (14774) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:12PM (#46547589) Homepage

    If the content of a videogame offends you, then don't buy it. If enough people don't buy offensive video games, people won't make offensive video games.

    Telling other people "you should do this" or "you should not do that" only pisses them off and wastes your time.

    • by Shados (741919) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:16PM (#46547611)

      This is more about the behavior of the community than the content of the game though.

      • Is this from the same group that gets all up in arms when Christians try to shove their beliefs down other people's throats? How is trying to change the beliefs and mores of the gaming community any different? You're still trying to change who they are to better suit you.
    • As I understand it, it isn't so much the content of the game as those playing it and communicating via it. For example, there may be a game mode in which there is one player versus many. Should the company go to appropriate lengths to make sure people aren't setting up games called "Smear the Queer?"

    • I think he's not so concerned about offensive video games as about offensive video gamers, and what the games themselves might be able to do about that.

    • by 0xdeadbeef (28836)

      What part of "abuse generated by a small segment of gamers" don't you understand?

  • by Citizen of Earth (569446) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:12PM (#46547593)
    Just delete the humans and you're all set.
  • While I applaud the idea, it's as unrealistic as "Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia out of the Internet" or "Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia out of books".

    Games are not like TV Shows, in that there is not a single channel in which consumers get it (like TV Stations). A single person can make a game that becomes popular with tens or hundreds of thousands of people. Combine this with the fact that one group can find content as offensive (She's has a character flaw... misogyny!) while a

    • by roc97007 (608802)

      And even if somehow all mainstream games are scrubbed clean, wouldn't that open new markets amongst independent game creators? "You won't find any of that perv stuff in Grand Theft Auto XXVII, not much of anything really, except stiffing generic looking taxi drivers. But i know a guy who's writing a game in his basement that you might like..."

  • by stenvar (2789879) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:19PM (#46547633)

    Gaming is one of the last bastions where political incorrectness survives. I hope it will stay that way and that gaming won't get invaded by the armies of the politically correct spoilsports. And, yes, I am a minority and a target of some of these "-isms" and "-phobias".

    • I hope it will stay that way

      Yes, because having some 13 year old yelling "YOUR TEH GHEY FAGOT LOL" is so much fun.

      I also think we should get rid of the bad spelling and grammar too.

      • by stenvar (2789879) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:47PM (#46548205)

        Yes, because having some 13 year old yelling "YOUR TEH GHEY FAGOT LOL" is so much fun.

        That... I don't care about. But I want characters to stay... in character. An 1960's Italian mafia boss should usually be a misogynist who likes big boobs, a 1980's black teenage gang member character is going to be homophobic, and a 1930's Nazi character should be anti-semitic. Trying to pretend otherwise is just stupid. And even for actual human players, I prefer if they don't pretend to be something they are not.

        Of course, it is good if game developers actually have players and game characters that are diverse. On the other hand, they should shut up about framing this as a question of "social justice". I don't want "social justice" meted out to me by some left wing game developer because he thinks it's the right thing to do for poor, helpless me; I want him to take me serious as a paying customer.

  • Myogyny? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by roc97007 (608802) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:24PM (#46547665) Journal

    I wonder, who gets to decide? Does this mean that all game avatars will be wearing grey coveralls like THX1138?

    .And how do you resolve the "it's misogynist to have women avatars in combat" and "it's misogynist *not* to have women avatars in combat" groups?

  • If you're talking shit in the lounge or common area, then you deserve a banhammer right to the forehead. And if you're playing a non-violent or otherwise cooperative game, then nasty epithets really aren't cool.

    But combat games? Actually shooting at other player opponents? Nuh-uh. Anything goes, jungle rules and survival of the fittest. If you're hunting other humans, then you should not only expect such nasty talk, but you should desire hearing it. When you've just flung a knife halfway across the ma [youtube.com]

  • In many video games, going back to some of the oldest, there's almost always been multiple races. Heck even Space Invaders had two races. WoW has over a dozen.

    If you're going to make a game that involves humans. Which race do you pick? Someone's going to get offended no matter which race you pick.

    I play SC2, Terran. There's Zergs and Protoss. Three races right there. Is someone offended that the Terrans appear to be primarily Caucasian? Sure there's a few bit characters that aren't. Why isn't Reynor hi

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:57PM (#46547913)

    I know reading the article is against ther terms of service here or something, but most of the points the speaker seemed to be making were more about equal representation in games, and how we can do better than having most games stars straight white males. The argument that audiences can't connect with characters of other colors, genders, ages, sexual orientations, or gender identity is suspect, given the diversity of the gaming population.

    There's a difference between this and "political correctness" or "feminism", or "The LGBT agenda" people are so quick to demonize. An argument that we should have a richer pool of stories to experience is pretty hard to argue with, if you ask me.

  • Someone starts saying BS I mute them. Problem solved. Lets focus on the damned cheaters that seem to infest all online games once said game has been out a few years. Obvious issue are invisible assholes on MW3. Now I realize MW3 is 2 years old, but if you try to play now you'll find an IA about 1 game in 3. Not to mention all the other cheats (wallhacks, aimbots, etc).
  • by VikingNation (1946892) on Friday March 21, 2014 @09:16PM (#46548345)
    I wonder do male gamers with daughters think differently about games that promote violence against women then single male gamers with no children? As a father of girls I cannot in a clear coconscious buy games that have sexists concepts and promote violence against women.
  • Whatever happened to "sticks and stones"? Are we such wimps that we're now going out of our way to be offended by the fantasy worlds that we're voluntarily taking part in?
  • by Hognoxious (631665) on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:20PM (#46548655) Homepage Journal

    We should use the ability of our medium to show players the issues first-hand, or give them a unique understanding of the issues and complexities by crafting game mechanics along with narrative components that result in dynamics of play that create meaning for the player in ways that other media isn't capable of.

    I didn't major in underwater basket-weaving, so can someone translate that into English please?

  • by slashmydots (2189826) on Friday March 21, 2014 @11:00PM (#46548819)
    How about instead of convincing everyone to behave, you convince everyone to stop being oversensitive idiots who care what others say. I for one do not give a shit what some random assholes type about me online. I don't know them and I have no reason to respect their opinion of me. They can say anything they want to me and I sincerely don't care. That is a healthier mindset to have than constantly basing your self-image on what others think of you, especially anonymous people. The people who get all worked up about it are the ones with the actual problem.
  • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @12:08AM (#46549043)

    Bullshit. Make fun games. Making a fake utopia inside games is about as plausible as doing it in real life. People fucking suck... and to enjoy life you'd can pretend they don't exist. You need to learn how to have fun despite them. The same goes for games. The only thing worse than someone that say insulting things is someone that wont let you speak because they're afraid you'll say something wrong.

  • by tsotha (720379) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @07:32AM (#46550289)

    We should use the ability of our medium to show players the issues first-hand, or give them a unique understanding of the issues and complexities by crafting game mechanics along with narrative components that result in dynamics of play that create meaning for the player in ways that other media isn't capable of.

    No. I do not want to be preached at while I'm gaming, and if you put that kind of crap in the game I won't buy it.

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