Author Topic: Representation of women in games  (Read 5134 times)

Mister Six

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #60 on: February 07, 2021, 03:03:53 AM »
Nah, Infinite's combat is all boring arena shit where doing anything other than hitting baddies with the biggest stick is a waste of time. Bioshock has a nice mix of stealth, traps, trickery and head-to-head fighting.

That said, Infinite has a great recursive plotline, and actually manages to make an anti-violence message work within the context of an FPS.

And I don't see how it's racist.

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #61 on: February 07, 2021, 03:07:27 AM »
Bioshock 2 is best Bioshock.

St_Eddie

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #62 on: February 07, 2021, 04:14:50 AM »
Well, they aren't really written to be anything are they? They are created solely by the player. Maybe it counts I don't know.

Either way, Glinner is fuming.

The Chosen One in Fallout 2 is one of the most enjoyable female protagonists in gaming IMO, simply because the dialogue being (mostly) the same no matter which sex you pick means that she can be as demented, sardonic and deranged as the male protagonist, which are qualities you don't often see in female characters.

For all the "Chosen One" moniker implies, I sure did get my arse handed to me by every cunt in town, several times over.  Not enough stimpacks in the world...

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #63 on: February 07, 2021, 04:21:49 AM »
The protagonist has been introduced in her underwear and is explaining verbosely how she's woken up exhausted. Not a strong start.

That's an unfortunate start to one of the best games ever to feature a well written female protagonist.  It's not representative of the game as a whole.  The fact that April awakens in her underwear is a plot point (that April travels to an alternate dimension in her sleep) and the setup to a rather amusing joke ("that's so not appropriate").

Are women who embody the (arguably) worst aspects of masculinity (solving problems with violence, domination of others, extreme risk taking etc.) really good representations? I don't know.

Another point in favour of the adventure game genre; strong women solving problems with logic.

Is Syberia worth playing eddie, or is that a load of shit? I think I started it ages ago and gave up for some reason.

I own a copy (and the sequels) but have yet to play it, so I'll have to get back to you on that.  It's well regarded among the adventure game community though, so I presume that it has its charms.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 04:35:43 AM by St_Eddie »

St_Eddie

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #64 on: February 07, 2021, 04:37:52 AM »
The fact that several of the black Vox members are just re-colored white ones (yes!!!)

Is black face within videogame assets a thing which needs to be acknowledged?  It's just cost cutting measures, surely?

There's also the fact that in the DLC her more reserved costume (aside from the fishnets and the insanely over the top "fuck me" makeup) is a stripper's outfit that she stole upon arriving in Rapture.

Yeesh.  Skin DLC's do tend to betray the industry's wont to appear more progressive.

Elderly Sumo Prophecy

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #65 on: February 07, 2021, 06:40:21 AM »
I think Infinite just had very few NPC character models, black or white, probably because they spent all the budget on animating Elizabeth. There was only about four per gender. I remember this became noticeably apparent on the level where you woke up on the beach, and you'd have groups of people stood around, all identical.

Then you'd see a "baby", and you'd get this absolute horrorshow:



That's an adult NPC male's head, scaled down and pasted onto a child's body. That's how fucking lazy they were. You'll find three of his identical headed Dads on the beach in a group.

So this talk of it being racist of them to recolour the white NPCs is complete bullshine, I'm afraid. They were cutting corners across the board to save time/money.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 06:54:37 AM by Elderly Sumo Prophecy »

St_Eddie

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #66 on: February 07, 2021, 07:42:11 AM »
Then you'd see a "baby", and you'd get this absolute horrorshow:



That’s the funniest thing I’ve seen all day.

Chedney Honks

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #67 on: February 07, 2021, 08:53:54 AM »
Just to note that I thought and said that Infinite was bollocks at the time, despite finding some of the set pieces and walking sim sections very beautiful and atmospheric.

Lemming

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #68 on: February 07, 2021, 03:11:25 PM »
Same, played it only once, about a year after it came out. Thought it was actually shockingly bad at points, though my only memories of it at this point are hating the story so much that the game became an actual chore to play (though not because of any sexism or racism that stood out to me, I just thought it was gibberish with one of the crappest protagonists ever), flying around on those rail things bored out of my skull, and tedious fights where it was actually easier just to let the enemies kill you so you could be magically revived elsewhere on the map to continue shooting.

Jerzy Bondov

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #69 on: February 07, 2021, 03:24:34 PM »
I liked the story and the ending but every time a fight started it was a struggle not to turn it off.

I'm quite surprised that this thread has made it so far without a single mention for Toadette.

Zetetic

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #70 on: February 07, 2021, 03:29:10 PM »
I'd definitely agree that the glorification/fetishisation of violence and domination in media is a serious issue, but it's one that's totally separate from representation of women, I think. As long as we unfortunately idolise violence in fiction, there's no reason why we shouldn't have women doing it too.
Your posts on this have been bubbling into my thoughts in the last few days. Trying to unpick to what extent men really do represent a human default in our culture, which women are defined against, and the extent to which practical equality here-and-now does mean women adopting men's roles rather than all of us finding a new human way forward. And how to attach that hand-wavy pseudyness to a medium where the default expression of agency is shooting someone or something.

I don't think I have any hesitation about something like XCOMs or Battlefield 1s. Either the narrative or setting is window-dressing or its the kind of fantasy where there's absolutely no reason gender or whatever should matter in the slightest.

Thinking about Arkane's work, in their worlds, that sex, gender, skin colour and sexuality don't really seem to matter in them as they do in our world. Mostly this is … nice? It's just sort of neat that Meagan Foster is an interesting and compelling character, because of her economic background and experiences and choices and how these are tied up with structure of power in her world, who just happens to be a black women who loved another a woman.

But at the same time, it's hard not to wonder "What does being black mean in Dunwall? What does being a lesbian mean in Serkonas? What does being a woman mean in the Empire?" The game touches on some of these things - a lot of Delilah's backstory and her allure to coven members is a bit about escaping the limitations of womanhood through a vaguely 19th century lens - but skips entirely away from others that seems kind of significant - given the games' interest in class and exploitation, where are the Empire's colonies? Having said that, to me, these things don't feel like a vacuum that actually needs to be filled - but I do sometimes wonder if that's because I'm just too distracted by how much I really want to be as a cool as Meagan and how much I want all the beautiful furniture in my home.

Then there's TLOU2 (and other dad-games?) where the deployment of young women protagonists seems very much tied up with the telling of a story about the nature of violence, but not a story written by or really intended for women[1]. If you despise the story being told and think its message is repugnant in the context of the here-and-now, it's hard not to also take against the exploitation of those characters (amongst other things) as part of that. At the same time, there's very little actual critical discussion of that story because most of the discourse is about "how abby get protein shakes in post-apocalypse?" and why people keep asking that. I don't know.
 1. And I should maybe be able to think more critically about Life Is Strange than I can, along similar lines?

Lemming

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #71 on: February 07, 2021, 04:21:55 PM »
Thinking about Arkane's work, in their worlds, that sex, gender, skin colour and sexuality don't really seem to matter in them as they do in our world. Mostly this is … nice? It's just sort of neat that Meagan Foster is an interesting and compelling character, because of her economic background and experiences and choices and how these are tied up with structure of power in her world, who just happens to be a black women who loved another a woman.

But at the same time, it's hard not to wonder "What does being black mean in Dunwall? What does being a lesbian mean in Serkonas? What does being a woman mean in the Empire?". The game touches on some of these things - a lot of Delilah's backstory and her allure to coven members is a bit about escaping the limitations of womanhood through a vaguely 19th century lens - but skips entirely away from others that seems kind of significant - given the games' interest in class and exploitation, where are the Empire's colonies? Having said that, to me, these things don't feel like a vacuum that needs to be filled - but I do sometimes wonder if that's because I'm just too distracted by how much I really want to be as a cool as Meagan and how much I want all the beautiful furniture in my home.

My Dishonored knowledge is far weaker than yours, but I think I get what you're saying. Perhaps it's awkward because the game clearly does portray a setting where sexism/a gendered hierarchy exists - Dishonored 1 has the brothel level and the upper class party - which leads to a clash between a character such as Billie, who's sex doesn't have any apparent bearing on her story, and a setting in which there's much evidence to suggest her life, opportunities and general treatment at the hands of society would have been significantly shaped by her being female.

I think a lot of writers, in gaming and elsewhere, have a similar problem to that which the writers of Star Trek often ran into -  they genuinely want to portray a world free of racism or sexism, but it's so difficult for us today to fully imagine what such a world would look like that the work ends up littered with moments and attitudes that contradict that goal, and even end up seeming outdated and offensive a decade or so later.

On that note, I remember it was reported at the time that many changes were made to Dishonored 2 in response to criticism about the portrayal of women in Dishonored 1, including the introduction of female guards, thugs and of course playable characters:
Quote
Speaking to Anita Sarkeesian in an interview for Engadget, co-creative director Harvey Smith responded to criticism of the first game’s handling of female stereotypes.

"Your comment, which I’ll always remember – I’ll take it to my grave – was something like ‘While Dishonored is a game that does many things very well, the roles that it has for women are very narrow.’ And, y’know, at first you take some criticism and you’re like ‘Wait a minute!’ And then you go look and it’s like ‘Wow, every woman in Dishonored is either a servant, a prostitute, a witch, a queen or a little girl. We have a mistress also.

That was not an intentional choice. So when something like that pops up you can get defensive if you want or you can say ‘Guys, let me just ask this – did we mean that?’. And the answer is no, we did not mean that. Would the game be worse if we took an action on this or would the game be better? The game would be richer and more interesting."

Smith then expalined that every changed from the game’s first DLC forwards, with more involved and sometimes plyable female characters being introduced.

"We made a deliberate [choice] to bring about more interesting roles,” Smith added. "We had a union boss, we introduced female gang members. We just kept extending that to try and hit some sort of more plausible balance in the world. We carried that over into Dishonored 2 and we’re very happy we did.”

So it could help to draw a distinction of sorts between Dishonored 1 and the DLCs + Dishonored 2, the latter definitely feeling like they portrayed a society that felt far less sexist, and a society in which someone like Billie could exist - someone who's race, sex and sexual orientation don't really play a part in her identity, because they don't matter or have any connotations attached to them in this world, and she's never faced any limitations, subjugation or othering as a result of them, unlike with her economic and social class.

As for us finding a new human way forward, so to speak, I assume that if/when there's a substantial backlash against violence in media, we'll start to see new and different types of action heroes in fiction, both male and female. Also, as mentioned, I'm very interested in the idea of putting more male characters into "female" roles, but I can't really imagine what that would look like.

H-O-W-L

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #72 on: February 07, 2021, 04:35:44 PM »
Is black face within videogame assets a thing which needs to be acknowledged?  It's just cost cutting measures, surely?

Yeesh.  Skin DLC's do tend to betray the industry's wont to appear more progressive.

It is a thing that has to be acknowledged when the central conceit of the game is about racism, honestly. If you're making a point, stand by it. Infinite does not, it's the most turncoat whore sort of game. I could go into a thesis-level rant but I think I should spare the thread that.

So this talk of it being racist of them to recolour the white NPCs is complete bullshine, I'm afraid. They were cutting corners across the board to save time/money.

You are honestly welcome to hold that as your opinion, but I still disagree, especially since the game is all about race in the 1910s, and the general portrayal of people of color in the game is fucking awful.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 04:46:01 PM by H-O-W-L »

H-O-W-L

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #73 on: February 07, 2021, 04:42:17 PM »
Also, I love Life is Strange's aesthetic and the prequel, Before the Storm, but the original game may be one of few games that has made me turn it off because of its sexist, out-of-touch content. I'm the kind of vodka-stained harridan who can stomach some right piss but the overwhelming ineptitude, idiocy, inferiority, and general shittiness of all the women in LiS infuriates me to no end. Chloe in the original game is a loathsome git who has no character beyond "Ruin everything currently ongoing", Max is a useless, idiotic bore with no social skills whatsoever, Victoria is just a stereotyped "bad girl" with all the sexist fashionista elements that includes (with no actual insight on the true nature of female-female violence), and Kate is a very plain cut-out soft-sad-girl with very generic christian tropes thrown in.

I think the thing that insulted me, though, most, about LiS, as a sexual abuse survivor, is the depiction of sexual abuse. They wanted to tackle it full-frontal with complete sincerity and the deep, dark, murdery-mangliness of that kind of underworld, small-town-drama element, while also absolutely and completely wussing out of dealing with it properly at every turn. Contrast it with say, Blue Velvet, and you don't even begin to get a chance to understand a fraction of the horror these things impart on someone. It didn't need a graphic scene depicting Kate's sexual assault, for sure, but them reducing Kate's drugged-and-assaulted experience to "She was recorded kissing several boys at the party" is... baffling. Mind-spinning. Show your bollocks. Be brave. Stand with sexual assault victims, don't de-escalate their suffering by making out that it's an overreaction like the final plot with Kate does.

And then Chloe exists purely to be a fucking death-doll buried gay whom Max can do nothing to save short of committing a mass civilian massacre. Fuck off and die, you tin shithouses. Don't make the fucking game if that's the plot you're going to tell.

I will also be a slender little tart and say that I generally agree that Arkane's female characters are well-done, and Emily in Dishonored is a good character with established flaws and a natural arc. Not much more to add on it beyond that.

Zetetic

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #74 on: February 07, 2021, 05:21:19 PM »
I have to admit that I don't remember the details and the Nathan/Mark plot is insufficiently serious, but I believe it's made clear that the video isn't meant to be extent of Kate's experiences. To me, it came across as a way of people within the story deliberately minimising those experiences in others' eyes amongst other things. I may well be being overgenerous.

But then I could never find Chloe loathsome. Or choose to agree with her self-assessment as worthless.

But I know that I'm still not really capable of engaging with the game critically. I can also see that my experience of the final decision was somewhat at odds with the authors' vision (and that their vision is pretty difficult to defend).
« Last Edit: February 07, 2021, 05:41:02 PM by Zetetic »

Zetetic

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #75 on: February 07, 2021, 05:44:50 PM »
EDIT GLITCH FUCK.

To add something of value:

Lemming, the Dishonored 1/2 distinction is interesting, as are Harvey Smith's reflections. (I'm also thinking of the way they crammed in the non-lethal options late in Dishonored's design and that maybe these maybe had connoations more that would have been intended with a bit more narrative focus.)

Having said that, one the little things that's stuck with me about 2 is the way that Breanna Ashworth's loyalty to Delilah was bought by saving her from an arranged marriage and, in the process, mediocrity. Tied up with Delilah being awesome and the broader stuff about inequality being a source of motivation waiting to be tapped. I certainly don't think of any of this is as painfully contradictory (with Meagan/Billie's experiences), however.

H-O-W-L

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #76 on: February 07, 2021, 07:38:53 PM »
I have to admit that I don't remember the details and the Nathan/Mark plot is insufficiently serious, but I believe it's made clear that the video isn't meant to be extent of Kate's experiences. To me, it came across as a way of people within the story deliberately minimising those experiences in others' eyes amongst other things. I may well be being overgenerous.

But then I could never find Chloe loathsome. Or choose to agree with her self-assessment as worthless.

But I know that I'm still not really capable of engaging with the game critically. I can also see that my experience of the final decision was somewhat at odds with the authors' vision (and that their vision is pretty difficult to defend).

I should say I don't find the game to be total S4C. I can see why it has its appeal and I think it's valid for someone (such as yourself) to like it to an extent. I almost do, but I'm very passionate and uncomprising about flaws in things I like -- mostly because I want them to be better. Though I am also a cunt to shit I hate, so it's usually hard to tell the difference I guess.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #77 on: February 07, 2021, 07:41:50 PM »
I liked the story and the ending but every time a fight started it was a struggle not to turn it off.

I'm quite surprised that this thread has made it so far without a single mention for Toadette.

I was playing Captain Toad's Treasure Tracker recently, didn't finish it so I didn't want to call it too early, but I think Toad and Toadette  might be the greatest characters in the history of fiction.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #78 on: February 07, 2021, 11:06:51 PM »
It's a while since I've played any of the Dishonored games. Was there not some bit of talk about Billie joining Daud's gang because she was a social outcast? It might have just been implied, or perhaps imagined.

I started watching a review of Death of the Outsider once, but stopped about a minute in, when the manbaby started complaining about paying as a black bisexual. This, despite the fact that neither fact has any real bearing on the game.

The worst bit of the first game would have to be the party level, in which the nonviolent solution is to drug the woman you're after and hand her over to a stalker.

Mister Six

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #79 on: February 08, 2021, 01:34:57 AM »
It is a thing that has to be acknowledged when the central conceit of the game is about racism, honestly. If you're making a point, stand by it. Infinite does not, it's the most turncoat whore sort of game. I could go into a thesis-level rant but I think I should spare the thread that.

You are honestly welcome to hold that as your opinion, but I still disagree, especially since the game is all about race in the 1910s, and the general portrayal of people of color in the game is fucking awful.

Is it "all about race in the 1910s"? I don't really think it's about race at all in any meaningful way, other than Columbia being US society dialled up to 11, which of course means black people being servants and Chinese people being shunted off to their own little ghetto. The central theme is that violence only ever breeds more violence, nothing to do with race or racism.

Kelvin

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #80 on: February 08, 2021, 02:23:45 AM »
Is it "all about race in the 1910s"? I don't really think it's about race at all in any meaningful way, other than Columbia being US society dialled up to 11, which of course means black people being servants and Chinese people being shunted off to their own little ghetto. The central theme is that violence only ever breeds more violence, nothing to do with race or racism.

Of course it's (at least partly) about racism. The villain is incredibly racist, and has cultivated a world where that's actively encouraged to maintain the social hierarchy. Several key sequences revolve entirely around the ugliness of racism. And the game later reveals that there's also a further division between the wealthy whites and the working class, which - I seem to remember - is what leads to the revolution of both the black and white underclasses together.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #81 on: February 08, 2021, 11:13:24 AM »
Is it "all about race in the 1910s"? I don't really think it's about race at all in any meaningful way, other than Columbia being US society dialled up to 11, which of course means black people being servants and Chinese people being shunted off to their own little ghetto. The central theme is that violence only ever breeds more violence, nothing to do with race or racism.

Booker delivers a "both sides are bad as each other" line when the Vox Populi rise up against their oppressors though and suggests Daisy Fitzroy and Comstock are basically the same.

Even if you wanted to say it's more about Daisy and the Vox Populi specifically than about race, then still raises the question of why Levine decided to portray them as being this way. Why they decided to have oppressed people of colour rising up against their racist oppressors be this way.

samadriel

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #82 on: February 08, 2021, 11:30:37 AM »
Nah, Infinite's combat is all boring arena shit where doing anything other than hitting baddies with the biggest stick is a waste of time. Bioshock has a nice mix of stealth, traps, trickery and head-to-head fighting.

I'll grant that maybe they gave you the tools to do this, but you can literally complete four fifths of the game with the lightning plasmid and the wrench; and the only difference in the final fifth is that there are enemies immune to lightning. BioShock has very boring combat, and combat is all you do; compare Half-Life, where different enemies of different sizes demand different weapons, and there are environmental puzzles and challenges. BioShock has a great storyline twist in the middle, but it's an intensely bland game.

Edit: I thought it was interesting when i watched a friend who wasn't as good at FPSes play the game, and I thought to myself "this looks a bit more exciting now." I guess, apart from the monotone gameplay, it's just too damn easy. The lack of gameplay consequences makes the "ethical dilemma" simply insulting: "if you kill innocent little girls... Your powerups will happen at a different time!!!!"

Zetetic

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #83 on: February 08, 2021, 12:53:52 PM »
Was there not some bit of talk about Billie joining Daud's gang because she was a social outcast?
I don't think there's any suggestion though that this is down to anything other than being destitute.

I suppose perhaps there's a contrast with Delilah, who seems to have other options open to her - tied up with being an attractive woman - for whatever reason, but this is possibly torturing the text even more than I'm usually inclined to.

Quote
The worst bit of the first game would have to be the party level, in which the nonviolent solution is to drug the woman you're after and hand her over to a stalker.
Mmm. I think the non-violent solutions in general kind of bear the marks of having been jotted down at the last moment and only sort-of making any kind "HOW IRONIC" sense, but the Boyle's one is a special kind of … uh.

bgmnts

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #84 on: February 08, 2021, 02:16:55 PM »
I'll grant that maybe they gave you the tools to do this, but you can literally complete four fifths of the game with the lightning plasmid and the wrench; and the only difference in the final fifth is that there are enemies immune to lightning. BioShock has very boring combat, and combat is all you do; compare Half-Life, where different enemies of different sizes demand different weapons, and there are environmental puzzles and challenges. BioShock has a great storyline twist in the middle, but it's an intensely bland game.

Strange.

Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #85 on: February 08, 2021, 03:48:50 PM »
"The game is boring if you choose to play it an uninteresting way"

But nah, to be fair, if there's no need then you'll just use what's more efficient. Bioshock 2 was better for having these moments where waves of enemies charge at you that incentivise you to set up all these traps and things for enemies and use all the tools at your disposal.

Mister Six

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #86 on: February 08, 2021, 04:39:18 PM »
Of course it's (at least partly) about racism. The villain is incredibly racist, and has cultivated a world where that's actively encouraged to maintain the social hierarchy. Several key sequences revolve entirely around the ugliness of racism. And the game later reveals that there's also a further division between the wealthy whites and the working class, which - I seem to remember - is what leads to the revolution of both the black and white underclasses together.

Right, but these are all plot points. The overarching theme (which comes into play with the uprising) is that violence and oppression only leads to more violence and oppression, and that vengeance is not something that should be pursued (which is what corrupts the Vox Pop uprising - it stops being about demanding equality and starts being about point scoring).

The theme is resolved at the end when Booker agrees to stop fighting and allows himself to be drowned, ending the Ouroboros battle between himself and Comstock (ie, himself and himself) and the breaking the cycle of horror and destruction.

It's not really "about" racism any more than Call of Duty: D-Day or whatever is about the invasion of Poland.

Booker delivers a "both sides are bad as each other" line when the Vox Populi rise up against their oppressors though and suggests Daisy Fitzroy and Comstock are basically the same.

See above - that's the theme at work.

Quote
Even if you wanted to say it's more about Daisy and the Vox Populi specifically than about race, then still raises the question of why Levine decided to portray them as being this way. Why they decided to have oppressed people of colour rising up against their racist oppressors be this way.

I would imagine it's a product of the chosen early 20th century aesthetic. Or maybe it's just clueless white liberal "end of history" politics at work. The game was released eight years ago, after Barack "the arc of justice" Obama won re-election, and long before Trump, the alt-right and BLM brought the white supremacist systems of the US to mainstream recognition.

Still doesn't make it racist though.
« Last Edit: February 08, 2021, 05:24:14 PM by Mister Six »

Mister Six

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #87 on: February 08, 2021, 04:52:20 PM »
"The game is boring if you choose to play it an uninteresting way"

But nah, to be fair, if there's no need then you'll just use what's more efficient. Bioshock 2 was better for having these moments where waves of enemies charge at you that incentivise you to set up all these traps and things for enemies and use all the tools at your disposal.

Maybe it was just me being shit at games, but I was always hacking turrets, setting up traps and using environmental hazards to fuck with baddies, because the pacing of the game allowed for it (and encouraged it, with the Big Daddies). Infinite was just one chaotic arena after another, so there wasn't much point bothering with the more interesting/odd tonics (or whatever they were called) when blasting people with explosives or whatever did the job quicker and more efficiently.

GoblinAhFuckScary

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #88 on: February 08, 2021, 04:59:58 PM »
on the bioshock subject i did play through all them bioshocks recently and was v pleasantly surprised by how well the first two hold up and the huge variety of ways to approach it and how well-thought the mechanics for doing so was. never used the floor vortex type plasmid to shoot splicers 20 ft up into the air before which is a bunch of laffs

also was my first time playing the burial at sea episodes. last one is actually a lot of fun with its stealth mechanic, and i like elizabeth significantly more there since she actually for once has some sort of agency

on the topic of racism, the new characterisation of suchong is overwhelmingly, blatantly racist. now transformed into something of a breakfast at tiffany's mickey rooney pastiche, he embodies something of an cranky east-asian stereotype and his english grammar and pronunciation noticeably weaker than in the original

H-O-W-L

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Re: Representation of women in games
« Reply #89 on: February 08, 2021, 05:30:31 PM »
Sorry, Mister Six, but you're just wrong. How did you play a game where the introduction has you pushed to throw a baseball at an interracial couple, surrounded by cartoon monkey symbols, as a Fairground Racist Man goes "ARE YA TAKIN' YOUR COFFEE BLACK NOWADAYS, BOAH?" and not think it was about race?

I will preface this in saying this isn't a personal attack, going forward -- I just write very angrily about games I don't like. Please bear that in mind, Mister Six. No offense is intended.

Ken Levine has gone on to make a complete arse of himself in interviews by wanking off about how Infinite "says something" about race, and how George Washington and Jefferson owning slaves and being anti-semites just made them "men of their time". The game is unequivocally about race in the 1910s and the portrayal of racism loops back around to become racist in its own right.

The Vox Populi do not exist as a representation of how racism is bad, as the game portrays, because they end up becoming characterless, rebel-yelling enemies for you to pop down with headshots as soon as they "turn" on Booker -- which they do for irrational reasons that make the only named person of color in the game that you directly interact with -- Daisy Fitzroy -- seem like a maniacal, power-hungry monster. The rhetoric of the Founders, IE "We oppress these people because they would uprise and kill and rape all Honest White People" is immediately proven to be true by the game's own logic, thereby justifying the internal, in-universe racism..

 By creating a divergent timeline with its own closed loop of society and logic, Ken Levine has created an insanely racist vertical slice of the 1910s where the standard rhetoric of "black people are innately violent and waiting to kill all hwhites!" is true. Because his plot, and his futile message of "violence begets violence", had to come first. The Vox do not exist to show what happens when you push people too far -- because they themselves go too far. The scene where a Vox character specifically yells about how he is going to take the Founders' wives (presumably to rape them) is the point where the mask shattered for me.

You can wank off about it just being about the cycle of violence all you want but that doesn't remove the fact the game is also tackling race relations in the 1910s at the same time. You cannot have both, with the only named and interacted black character being a violent murderer for almost no reason, without being a fucking racist. You cannot excuse this as "oh, Daisy was just molded by the world she lives in" because this is a video game, where all hostiles are innately on the wrong side of history.

 We are not playing an explicit villain. Booker DeWitt is, at worst, an anti-villain, and in the writing, an anti-hero. He is, objectively, on the right side when we have control of him. There are no optional war-crime-antics he can fulfill. Everything he does that is considered Bad War Man or even Racial Bad Man is entirely in his backstory, and by the time we slot into his spats, he is on the right side, and doing what we should consider right. It's only by the end of the game that it is made truly and wholly clear that it's better for him to die (and it doesn't even make sense with the multiverse stuff they arsepulled anyway, but that's its own thing) than to continue living. I hate the cunt, and I think he's an awful racist piece of shit, but the gameplay betrays the plot. It actively undermines it.

When you encounter an enemy in Bioshock Infinite there are two things that can occur: You die and respawn, or the enemy is killed. There is no debate, no waffling, no character interaction or context to why these people are fighting you, beyond their model, which is generic and representative of a group. You can say this is because of budget issues, you can say this is because of the nature of games, but at the end of the fucking day, Ken Levine knows of this. He has talked, endlessly, in interviews, about the meta nature of game structures, about how people handle choice and combat in games. He was aware of this conceit when writing, and he did not consider how this portrayed the Vox, whom are meant to be the representative voices of the people of color and oppressed minorities in the game.

Let me reiterate that, again:

There is no rhetorical counterpoint or counterplay to all the people of color in the game spontaneously turning on Booker.

There is no scene where a minority, oppressed voice of reason agrees that the Vox are going too far. Booker and Elizabeth do not mention how they still have faith in people of color and accept the Vox are a specific group -- they are our PoC reference in this game, in this universe.

There is no counter-voice, whatsoever, to the Vox's violent rhetoric and their slaughter of white people.

Even the Vox members do not show any sense of debate or consideration over this -- they are all hooting criminals wearing macabre devil masks who defile everything they see, throw molotovs, rebel-yell (yes) while on skylines, and shoot founders (entirely white characters) and you (a nominally white character) on sight.

Even if they showed any debate or regret over this, there is still no solution provided by the game's systems to the Vox short of murdering them on sight, first. There is no non-lethal or avoidance option, every arena is telegraphed and funnelled.


They knew they were going into the game making a straight-laced FPS with simple shoot-and-kill mechanics and they didn't give a moment's thought to who or what the player would be facing in the context of the plot, because they figured and assumed that it wouldn't matter because gamers are stupid and would disconnect plot from gameplay... in a game where you find huge swathes of lore in ambient play mid-combat and in the environment anyway. It is clear that no deep consideration was put to how the message might come across, how it might effect people, and how it might synergize with the gameplay, because they knew there were top-and-tail start-and-finish setpieces to wow the reviewers and general public (whom don't really analyze games for their content) into not-thinking about the legitimately deceitful and insidious middle half.

There was no care or nuance put into the game because ultimately, the racial elements were included purely to tingle the spines of the masses without actually daring to have the bollocks to say anything. In doing so, the game is both racist, and anti-progressive, because in failing to say anything of note (and wilfully so) they degraded the image of works that might similarly want to say something. Everyone who played Bioshock: Infinite and had a shit experience with the plot (like myself) is less likely to seek out fiction with a similar through-line, since it might be just as shit as the last time. I myself consider myself relatively progressive, and interested in racial relations, and I can honestly say BS:I made me really hope that games would stop trying to tackle race for a while, because clearly they weren't ready and would just make everything worse.

You do more damage by saying something stupid than keeping your mouth shut.

A game that I feel did the "oppressed becoming violent in response to oppression" angle far better, in a way that raised more insightful questions and had more insight in-of-itself, was Wolfenstein: The New Order. That game shows BJ and his associates becoming more and more uncomfortably and questionably violent as the game goes on, without outright saying "THESE MEN ARE BAD BECAUSE THEY WANT TO RESIST GENOCIDE AND SLAVERY BY SHOOTING BAD MEN FIRST! HOW BAD!" like Infinite does. And more to the point -- the game gives you oppressors that you are wholly justified in killing, because the devs knew there would be no other option in the gameplay. It is fiction, they knew they could construct the narrative.

Also, contrast Infinite also with Dishonored 1 and 2, games where you are part of a million tiny stories through your 'hits', and unintentionally ripple massively on a world of vast, industrialized oppression not far off Infinite's -- albeit not solely predicated on race -- purely by your actions. And those game? It teaches you not to be violent. It tells you, first-hand, that violent, murderous acts effect those around you. They perpetuate more violence, and twist and warp the world you live in, in many awful ways, indirect ways, that you may not understand until it's too late. They created the system to allow this. The message makes sense. There is no racial element to harm alongside this.

You can resist oppression without being a bastard. We have seen this in the real world. We see this in the real world every day we breathe. But does Infinite acknowledge that? Does it care? No. Because Ken had a narrow-minded, single-dot point he wanted to reach, and didn't care who he burned to get there. No consideration was made for how Bioshock: Infinite's plot would come off, how it might hurt people, what it might say, because all that was needed was the facile layer for Ken to feel good about it.

No thought was given to the people who hurt every single day, even now, under racial oppression, in Bioshock Infinite's development. The game was made as a theme park "Political Game" for people who know nothing about politics, and don't care.It says nothing about our culture, and if you filed the serial numbers off, it could easily be a genocide-justifying wank fantasy for Ben Garrison types. I hope I never have to write about this fucking game again. I've written this same post a handful of times over the last eight (!!) years and I'm sick of it.

Oh, and by the way? Bioshock 1 had black-skinned palette swaps for several Splicers (and splicer-models-used-as-unique-characters) throughout the game. You know why I don't mind that? The game doesn't make race a huge fucking important element.

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