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The "Proof of loonacy" Dept.:
MailBag for Issue #11

Comments by Stephanie "Bobbi" Bergman


Every week our associate editor takes on the big ol' pile of mail for your reading enjoyment...got something to say? Send it in. You just might win a swanky loonygames t-shirt. Letters are presented exactly as they are recieved.

Oh, women don't like that, do they?

Subject: Re: Duke Nukem..Sexist Pig?

I've got just a few comments to make on this article...

" The first point to ponder is the question of whether of not sexism is funny. Is any -ism funny? It's kind of shocking to think there is a spectrum of -isms in people's minds and that there are some that people feel comfortable poking fun at. By definition, an -ism is a prejudice or discrimination on the basis of a specified attribute. Substitute the words prejudice or discrimination for -ism and the tenor of a statement like that changes because prejudice and discrimination, hence -isms, are considered social bads and are not funny. Ridicule marginalizes an -ism, diluting it with humor and thus masking its true nature. Is sexism funny? Is racism funny? Is anti-semitism funny? Hitler apparently thought so if his propaganda posters are any indication. "

I don't see the question as whether or not "-isms" are funny? It about whether or not something that offends someone is funny. Take Tomb Raider. Some women think it's sexist. Some women don't care. And some women think that ANY female lead is a good thing in the heavily male dominated world of computer gaming. It's all a matter of perception.

The point is that everyone is destined to be offended by something. That's why designers should design what THEY think is funny and what appeals to them. You can't please all people all of the time.

" The second point is the alleged "realism" of Duke. If every attempt was made to make Duke realistic, then where are the male denizens of this seemy futuristic world? It's a Red Light district, right? Where are the pimps and other such flesh peddlers, the junkies, the trenchcoated erring businessmen cheating on their wives, the slumming beer-bamboozled frat boys? I guess the makers assume that they've all been annihilated by the alien beasties because, apparently, the beasties see them as a threat, right? And the trashy women are still alive because alien beasties are attracted to them, right? And this is a "realistic" take? Well, what alien did the creators of Duke interview that told them our trashy women are attractive? Did the makers find bootleg copies of Earth Girls Are Easy at UFO crash sites? Maybe copies of Playboy in the wreckage at Roswell? "

Duke Nuke 'Em has been touted as "realistic" not because of it's story line (which is cheesy science fiction cliche), but because of the interactivity of the environment. You can operate telephones, toilets, play pool, etc.

" Then there's the question of social responsibility. In my mind, the jury is still out on whether or not images such as those inherent in Duke are harmful to impressionable minds. What is harmful, I think, is when a behavior is not questioned, when certain behaviors are accepted as "the way to act" by someone who doesn't question why it is "the way to act." "Just because it has always been that way" is not an acceptable answer. Slavery and segregation ended even though in some people's minds it "had always been that way." I guess the one thing that stands out in my mind is Duke the character paying off the women to expose themselves. The behavior being exhibited is one of reciprocity in which it is implied that money and flesh can be exchanged equally, where women's bodies can be bartered like so much wampum. Can a young child question this exchange? Can a young child determine if this is acceptable behavior? Substitute dysfunctional adult for young child 'cause ain't none o'! us functional. "

Duke tips the dancing girls in the game because this is a long established cultural cliche that goes back thousands of years. There have probably always been "dancing girls" and there probably always will be. Duke Nuke 'Em is not necessarily for kids, give it's pixelated nudity and "bad" message. But it could hardly be considered harmful to adults who understand the cultural context of the game.

" Okay, let's try a little experiment. Pretend you are a man. This incredible game comes out, lauded as the most technologically advanced, realistic, blow-your-mind-as-you-blow-'em-up experience that you'll ever have. You buy it and go racing home, pop it in, and have your hand poised on your joystick/mouse/keyboard all ready to play and the music starts and graphics explode on the scene and you select the biggest weapon possible from your bad-ass arsenal and and you're ready to play…and then you notice that you are a woman. Forget Lara Croft, I'm talking a realistically proportioned woman. Maybe someone in the vein of Sigourney Weaver's Ripley or Linda Hamilton's Sarah Connor (in Terminator 2) or, hell, even Carrie Fisher's Princess Leia. These are all heroic women in our popular culture, but do you want to have to be one in order to play this game? Maybe this belies my ignorance in the technology behind creating games, but is it so hard for creators to present options for avatars to take on and at least present the choice to be male or female? "

This brings up an interesting point. In Unreal, you have the choice between various female and male avatars. There are innumerable female skins for Quake 2. Yet neither of these games are considered a significant "stride" for women in games. Why? Mainly because these characters, male and female, completely lack any personality whatsoever. They're basically walking guns.

This is why Tomb Raider is considered important. Laura Croft is rich, powerful, in a very popular series, and most importantly, actually has a personality. She also makes for a sexy pin-up in a male dominated hobby. It's this combination of features that explain why she's the de facto mascot of gaming and one of it's most recognizable characters (especially to those outside of the community).

Basically, my point is that women in gaming need to come to three realizations:

1. The gaming community, and gamers in general, is totally male dominated.

2. These demographics aren't going to change anytime soon. Gaming (especially 3D gaming) is a hot rod, tech oriented hobby. Kind of like auto racing. It's dominated by men (and teenagers) who tinker performance out of their PCs and play the latest, hottest games. The industry recognizes this and caters to it.

3. Vote with your dollars. If you don't like the content of a game, don't buy it. It's as simple as that. When "women friendly" games start selling well the industry will take notice and respond accordingly.

Wow. It's rare I get an e-mail from someone this backward.

Ok, my turn.

Quake2 and Unreal WERE great strides for women in gaming. Lara was not. Why? Because, as you said yourself, "she makes for a sexy pin-up in a male dominated hobby." Lara's just another cheesecake. The Quake2 and Unreal ladies are WOMEN, and that is a great thing to see. At least the Quake2 woman could take a few steps without falling over. Lara would belong in a hospital.

(now, your 1/2/3)

1. The gaming community, and gaming in general is not "totally male dominated." Men may be more visible, but in some games, you will find equal numbers of women. You play Quake. Quake is overwhelmingly male. But there are women here, and we are starting to be seen. I am in an all female Quake clan (PMS). We have 20 members. A while ago, we were one of 2 clans comprised solely of women. Not anymore....there are lots of us, and not only in Quake.

2. WRONG! The demographics ARE changing, and developers are recognizing that. Why do you think there was a female model in Quake2? To satisfy the male need for things to drool over? Nooo....to listen to the female Quakers who were asking for some equal treatment. There is no reason why women wouldn't be just as interested in games as men, oh, well, except for people like you who run around telling others that women aren't interested in this stuff. As for auto-racing? I remember seeing a story recently about a 16 year old girl who's beating men twice her age on the track. So...open your mind.

3. We do. I didn't buy Tomb Raider 1 or 2, and I will not buy 3. I will NOT buy any Barbie crap games, most anything by Purple Moon, or any of the other garbage put out to teach girls how to apply makeup. I will, however, buy Quake3, Half-Life, and SiN. I have played Trespasser. I love Shogo. Dogz and Catz 3 is adorable, Rogue Trip is a hoot. Oh, wait, I'm not supposed to like these games? I'm curious, exactly what do comprise "women friendly" games? Because I tell ya, Space Bunnies Must Die just won't cut it for me (another game I will NOT be buying). GOOD games are woman friendly to me.

If it seems I'm a little hard on this guy, I apologize. However, this is the kind of attitude I was hitting head first a year or so ago, and one I'd thought was nearly stamped out. It is painful to see someone this ignorant, and, well, just the wrong button to push with me. I'm a gamer, and a girl. Oh, and my favorite kinds of games? Shooters, and RPG's.

On Romero...

Subject: Romero Interview

Excellent interview with Romero. Some interesting and intelligent questions (not the normal boring stuff), and some relaxed and interesting responses from Romero. I think something of the real Romero came out there, which has to be a good thing.

I also thought the little screenshots and pictures were a good idea :)

Nice One,

Tony

Thanks! We thought doing a 'different' interview would be a good idea...glad to see it worked. :)

loony takes St. Louis

Subject: issue 11 - st. Louis

loonyboi,

I started reading your frag2 coverage just to get to the part about your layover in St. Louis... I'm from St. Louis, but in Austin, Texas now... Ahahahahaha... That bit about the "arch, weeee"... How accurate... I couldn't stop laughing...

Your site rules... I've been reading since its inception... Keep up the excellent work...

-Mike

Thanks, Mike! :)

I'd like to thank everyone who e-mailed wishing me a happy birthday. But as the sappy big sister, the one that meant the most to me (and the winner of this week's loonygames t-shirt) is...

Subject: Happy Birthday

Hi Stephanie,

This is Heather (Jason's girlfriend), just dropping you a line to say Happy Birthday.

HI HEATHER! (So, when do I get to meet you?)

Editor's Note: Oy. Man, am I gonna get flak from this one... ;)

 

 

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Credits: MailBag logo illustrated and is © 1998 Dan Zalkus. The MailBag is © 1998 Stephanie Bergman. All other content is © 1998 loonyboi productions. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited and not nice.