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Getting Misogyny, Racism and Homophobia Out of Gaming 704

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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  • Wrong Subsection (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @06:55PM (#46547447)

    The small sub-section of intolerant gamers doesn't need to go.

    The small sub-section of Professional Victims who love to always complain should take a hike for once.

  • 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 Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:00PM (#46547485)

    It's not so much *who* they're rude toward (everyone), so much as the *way* in which they're rude.

    There's a big difference between "You suck at this game" and "You play like a girl," to use the most tame example I can think of. Putting down players by implying that they're $category, using hateful slurs, only propagates the idea that $category is not a desirable thing to be. Not only are they hurting the player they're insulting, but any person in $category that is in the same game; as well as teaching the non-$category people that this is an acceptable way to act.

  • by buraco_espinhoso ( 3578311 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:02PM (#46547501)
    Sound more like feminist victimization rehashed...
  • 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.

  • by buraco_espinhoso ( 3578311 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:05PM (#46547537)
    Do I sense a smell of feminist BS?
  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:12PM (#46547585)

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

  • 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.

  • 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 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.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:17PM (#46547621)

    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 pessimistic, it's oppressive. It strengthens the status quo. I'm sure you have good intentions and don't outwardly hate people. I don't think you're a bigot, but you're standing in the way of progress by trying to discourage people from even attempting to improve the world. Please don't do that.

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

    by Fwipp ( 1473271 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:17PM (#46547627)

    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.

  • by ackthpt ( 218170 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:18PM (#46547631) Homepage Journal

    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!

  • 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?

  • by sideslash ( 1865434 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:31PM (#46547719)

    You do know that feminism isn't about hating on men or trying to mooch off society right? Evidently you don't.

    Depends on which feminists you are talking about. Are you really unaware of the wide spectrum of activism that falls under the term "feminism"?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:32PM (#46547731)

    "Because, you know, being part of a movement looking to improve the rights of historically opressed groups makes their arguments crap."

    Yes, actually, in practice it does. At some point they go beyond improvement, then to parody, then to active harm of others. Too many groups keep going long after the problem is solved, and seek to create problems where there are none so they can be "solved" - usually by force.

  • by buraco_espinhoso ( 3578311 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:50PM (#46547861)
    Yeah communism is all about equality too. Textbook "isms" aren't the same as in practice "isms". For starters if they really mean equality they should start by changing the name. It doesn't help if even your name is biased.
  • Further: (Score:4, Insightful)

    by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @07:55PM (#46547893) Homepage Journal

    Mommying game content does not address the actual problem (abject stupidity), and creates another one: the watering down of content that resembles the world you thought up.

    Also, game developers, take note: People mostly only have a very low count of legitimate mommies. Please do not think even for a moment that it is appropriate that you decide outsiders can, or should, fill that role in limiting your creative output. In architecting a game, please think of yourself as a god, responsible to no one, and without concern for who thinks what about whatever, except as you want them to. That's *much* better: we call this creative freedom, and good grief, do I ever want you to have it. You, and writers, and all other artists.

    If you want to support (fill in group), by all means do so. Give them money, time, bags of cat food, speak to them, speak at their outreach events if they think you have something to contribute, but do not, under any circumstances, decide those groups have the chops to decide what's good for everyone else and limit what you actually want to do accordingly.

    Aside from the obvious problems, this trend has very dark mirrors we can see all around us; for instance, fox news thinks its perfectly ok to distort the living heck out of any sane narrative of events, past, present or future, and then bottle-feed it to their audience.

    If you want to make a game, just make the game. Don't second guess anyone, don't try to be the obedient dog of the morality police or the ethical police or the politically correct police or the religious police or the atheist police... just build your world the way you think you want it and see if people like it.

    We have plenty of individuals and groups vying for the position of mommy already. Please don't add to this problem. And it is, most assuredly, a problem.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:01PM (#46547953)

    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 befall society.

    We use the term phobia because the overwhelming majority of the hate stems from a fear response which, like the majority of fears, stems from a lack of understanding, and tends to reside in the uneducated or religious (which have some overlap). It's a useful description, and frames the discussion correctly.

    As for a disagreement on personal behaviour... that's bizarre. It's someone else's behaviour, is a natural behaviour for them, and doesn't affect you or hurt anybody. Why 'disagree' with it if not, at some level, out of fear?

  • 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.

  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:15PM (#46548035)

    1. who are you to dictate someone's target customer base?
    2. yes, that's right. Take what other people give you, refuse what they give you, and/or make your own. Those are the three basic choices of life. Deal with it.
    3. Maybe just having the women who aren't professional victims as customers is enough.

  • by onkelonkel ( 560274 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:19PM (#46548065)
    Ok, lets be objective. Science, while not 100% settled on this topic, tell us that sexual orientation is determined before birth. [].

    In other words people are born gay (or straight), If you want to provide evidence that this is not the case, feel free. That is an objective discussion of the facts.

    Objective discussion doesn't allow for religious or moral arguments, since these are personal and subjective.

    Assuming we accept the science, discriminating against people who are born with different sexual orientation ought to be no more acceptable than discriminating against people born with different skin color.

    You are entitled to believe anything you like. (Isn't this a great country we live in!). However, if you believe that it is not "ok" to be black and say so out loud people will call you a racist. And, if you believe that it is not "ok" to be gay and say so out loud people will call you a homophobe (dumb word, I agree but it's all we have). Either way, you are a bigot.
  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:20PM (#46548071)

    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 mellon ( 7048 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @08:29PM (#46548117) Homepage

    Yeah, there's a lot in Mad Men about the women of that era heroically dealing with the crap that's shoveled at them day after day. It's kind of the major theme of the series, actually. So yeah, women loved it, but not because it was misogynistic.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Re:Myogyny? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Laxori666 ( 748529 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:07PM (#46548599) Homepage
    But women are more valuable. Kill 90% of the men and the population will continue on quite well. Kill 90% of the women and you've got a problem.
  • Re:Further: (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:09PM (#46548607)

    How is saying that the major games makers are censoring themselves to avoid putting off white male straight gamers and they should be more open to non male non white or non straight charters and stories a cry for censorship? The complaint is specifically that they are treating gamers as sensitive and easily hurt by things that only mater to a small stupid and not particularly profitable minority and that they should stop.

  • Axe (Score:4, Insightful)

    by phorm ( 591458 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:11PM (#46548615) Journal

    As opposed to the Axe cologne [], Hanes underwear etc guys who are of course of perfectly average build?

    Yes, sexy women in ads sell... guess what, so do sexy guys. Very few ads with models are realistic in terms of average body/muscle/fat mass.

  • by westlake ( 615356 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:19PM (#46548649)

    Sound more like feminist victimization rehashed...

    Sounds to me more like game developers are thinking long and hard about what is happening elsewhere in the entertainment industry.

    ["Frozen"] took the No. 13 spot on the all-time worldwide box office list this week, passing "Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace" and "Jurassic Park."

    It's been a big week for "Frozen," which has been in the top ten at the box office in the U.S. and Canada for 17 weeks.

    On Wednesday, Disney said that "Frozen" had sold 3.2 million DVD and Blu-Rays on Tuesday, becoming one of the biggest home entertainment debuts in recent years.

    Disney chairman and chief executive Robert Iger told shareholders Tuesday that "Frozen" was on pace to be the most successful animated film in history, surpassing "Toy Story 3," which ranks No. 11 on the all-time list with $1.063 billion.

    And thanks to its ubiquitous anthem "Let it Go," the soundtrack has sold over 1.4 million albums in the U.S. It has also been streamed more than 100 million times on Spotify.

    'Frozen' surpasses 'Jurassic Park' on all-time box office list []

    In Blu-Ray sales at Amazon, "Frozen" is #1, "Catching Fire" #2 and "Gravity" in 3D #10.

    The point being that ditching gender stereotypes in mass media can have a very big financial payoff. If it means ditching the foul mouthed, misogynistic and eternally adolescent male audience that perpetuates these stereotypes, that can be a price worth paying.

  • by narcc ( 412956 ) on Friday March 21, 2014 @10:20PM (#46548659) Journal

    No. He's making the (reasonable) assumption that the majority of the complainers are just drumbeating morons crushing free speech for the sake of social conformity and a emotional rush of self-righteousness.

    Reasonable assumption? In what way is that reasonable?

    Have some evidence? I didn't think so.

    As far as rational arguments go, there are none regarding 'affirmative action' nor in the minds of the legions of morons it leaves in its wake. It is full of fallacies, double standards, hypocrisy, and spineless complaining

    Yawn. Evidence or GTFO.

    They need to stop telling other people what they should and should not do, think, and say, and learn to respect liberty. If they don't like how they're treated somewhere, they should leave. If they find themselves doing this a lot, then maybe it's time to learn not to take everything so damned seriously.

    Yeah, those blacks should just stay out of town if they don't like how they're treated. The same with those gays. If the skirts at work don't like me staring at their tits, ignoring their thoughts and opinions, or my crude jokes and comments, well, they should find another job.

    You disgust me.

  • by MisterSquid ( 231834 ) on Saturday March 22, 2014 @12:59AM (#46549209)

    The "academic" branch of feminism - like all academia - is safely removed from the real world and traffics mainly in the Andrea Dworkin "all heterosexual intercourse is rape" [] and Starhawk []-style schools of radical feminism. This is a holdout from pre-'80s feminism and remains the intellectual vanguard of feminism but is a small niche among women.

    As a former faculty of American Literature at at a research university, I can assure you that you have no idea what academic feminism is.

    Critical theory, race studies, religious studies, psychoanalysis, film theory, subject spectator theory, semiotics, linguistics, cultural anthropology, and more are all well-understood by and -represented among the scholars and intellectuals who are recognized as feminists. Academic feminists analyze and consider the signs, systems of meaning, legal histories, social histories, cultural artifacts, popular culture, etc. etc, etc. insofar as they affect women and the people to whom women are connected, which would be every human being who has ever lived.

    Feminism is multiple, not singular, and the best way to describe what drives feminists is the desire to see women—and the people and collectives to which those women are connected and by which they are constituted—to be empowered and autonomous rather than (as has historically been and, in many contexts, currently is the case) disenfranchised and subjugated.

    Seriously, do yourself a favor and understand that movements that promote human welfare are good for everyone. People threatened by feminism don't understand feminism. Feminism is about making things better, flawed as some of its approaches may be.

    Here's something old-school style that demonstrates some "academic" feminism from 1991: Donna Haraway's "A Cyborg Manfiesto []". That's some old-school cultural anthropological feminism for you that is super awesome, fun, literate, and though-provoking.

    Try it and see. Some of these people are smart and amazing. You might be surprised.

    (As a straight male professor, it agonized me when young intelligent women would come to my survey on critical theory and proudly announce during our feminist section that "I am not a feminist." I am grateful to have had the opportunity to change some of these young persons' minds.)

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