Tag Archives: Opinion

“Don’t Feed the Trolls”

If you are wondering what happened to the next part of my look into a Trans Horror Game, well I have decided to actually make one, so I am holding off on it until a get a more focused image.

Anyway, onto today’s subject, where I will be looking at harassment, a recent “movement” focused on it, and the crazy defence of it. For those who don’t know, my title is in reference to one of the common defences of digital harassment. You see, people who harass others online are often referred to as Trolls. The common or garden Troll will often leap in randomly to conversation and offer either dissenting opinions or bring up random topics. Their aim is often to de-rail the conversation, for any number of reasons like boredom or wanting the winning side of a conversation to lose. They can be harmless morons, wasting what little time they have in this life, but they can also be dangerous and zealot like in their attacks.

In the latter case they cease being Trolls, and instead turn into Demons, the Demons of society. You want to see the issues still prevalent in society, look where anonymity is preserved. Right now that is the digital world. Across the internet and gaming worlds, open harassment happens on a daily basis to anyone who is unfortunate enough to not be “normal.” I know, as I have experienced it. Last year, I was really into Star Trek Online (no I am not a Trekkie, but I do love the Trek Universe, and the combination of tactical RPG style ground and space combat was really good in my opinion). At one point, while wandering round the social area that is the Space Station above Earth (forget its name) I was invited to join a Fleet, essentially a Clan for questing and so forth. It was the Star Fleet LGBT CORPS (or something similar). I decided to join as, hey, I am Trans and I had written a Trans backstory for my character (visible only to friends). What I wasn’t prepared for was the backlash for having my LGBT status visible online. I had to deal with a lot insults for walking around, raids could only be done with my fleet or I would face ridicule. I eventually left the fleet and the game, which I miss dearly as I felt that it was pretty cool.

This is the thing, harassment can quickly push people away, and now people have caught onto the idea and are using it. Just look at the GamerGate “movement,” if it can even be called that. Some claim that its originators where looking for ethics in video game journalism but I personally find that a little hard to swallow. The only people I have seen using that story are GamerGaters and apologists, mainly as ways of negating the horrible nature of the GamerGaters. And trust me, GamerGate is horrible, and if you truly believe in video game ethics, stay away. I have avoided talking about this for some time, as I fear the implications for my little indie blog. Though never encountering a GamerGate crowd, my post to the creators of Warface, which I recently saw, is as close as I ever got. It confirmed to me that I didn’t want to play that game, considering its fan base.

Anyway, this harassment is being used to push people away from games and discussing games. So far the GamerGaters have pushed three women to flee their homes for safety fears, and cancel talks to protect the public. It has nothing to do with ethics, even if it did “start” that way (as said, I’m not convinced). It is being used to silence those that challenge the status quo of games, which put the white cis het dudes on top. Sure advances are being made by some companies, Bioware has included a Trans Man in its most recent Dragon Aga game (which I just bought, so expect to see something on it in a while), but as long as Gamers still hold these ideas, and most games fail to challenge them, things are grim for me and many of my friends.

And here is the real kicker, apologists and defenders. Why the fuck would someone defend actions and words that have scared people to death? Forced them to run away and sleep on friends couches just in case someone decides to follow through on a threat? I mean what the actual fuck? Commen defences include “It’s just words,” “Don’t feed the Trolls,” and “Just turn it off and go away.” They generally fall into two categories, ignoring the harassment or implying the harassed person is the one with fault. Ignoring the harassment is probably the most common, and certainly done at a political scale. To this day the disproportionately high levels of violence against woman and LGBT people is ignored to the point we need to scream and shout to be heard. Indeed, when I have pointed out Transphobic language on Facebook, they ignore it (then they started blocking Trans peoples accounts for not using their birth names, so I wonder where their allegiances lie?). It is horrible and dehumanizing. Ignoring it is indeed a defence because it allows it to go on. For years people ignored the Anti-Semitism the Nazi party displayed, and what happened? Attempted genocide. Now I am not saying all those who have taken part in the GamerGate are new Hitlers and Himmlers, merely that they are beginning to climb the same ladders they did.

The other group of defenders are worse than the ignorers, because they twist it round to be the victims fault. It is unfortunately very prevalent in our society to blame victims, just look toward rape. “Why where you wearing that?” Why didn’t you come forward sooner?” “Why didn’t you fight back or scream?” These all cast doubt on the victim, and cause almost as much scaring as the incident itself. In games, it is thankfully not as bad, but still plagues us. We are often told we are too sensitive and need to grow thicker skins. Bullshit. It is easy to claim someone is oversensitive, but hard to look at why. You don’t know what has happened in their life that means that something upsets them. Let’s give an example, two in fact. I occasionally use the T word (don’t know what it is? Ask Ru-Paul) in a mocking sense on myself, but a couple of Trans friends mentioned really not liking the word. So I stopped. My Dad kept using the R word (annoyingly it is considered a medical term in America as far as I can gather) and I asked him to stop as my Head Mistress had called me it at school. So he stopped (one of his more decent moves, the Transphobic Bigot (he doesn’t let me wear what I want or call me Emily as well as apparently trying to get my Mother to Detransition me, so I can call him what I like here)). You need to accept that people get hurt by things, and change according to who is around you. On the internet of course anyone could be around you, so even greater care is needed. Merely telling them to switch of or go away for being offended does not improve them or yourselves. In fact it can drive people away from what they enjoy (look at me and Star Trek: Online). By shutting out the voices of others you loose the ability to learn. That is what GamerGate is all about, not ethics, shutting out the voices of others because they don’t want to learn just how horrible things are.

So yeah, I think this was one of my longer posts, but I have been holding this back a bit.

Advertisements

Whats Wrong with the Games Industry and Female Characters, Visible in Searches for this Blog.

It has been months since I have come here, and for those who pay attention, sorry. Some may notice I have removed a couple posts, well more on that tomorrow.

Any way, I decided to check the search terms being used to find this blog. They are mostly fine, stuff like “saints row 5” or “change soldier in warface” but one very long entry caught my eye. It read “it would be funny if you could make the female soldiers on cod ghosts to wear bikinis.” Ugh. Now I tried to see how easy I got linked to because of this. I certainly wasn’t on the first 5 pages of Google, so whoever this was either used another search engine or really dug to find me.

Lets deconstruct this, as it really points out a major flaw with how the games industry, and many male gamers (many means a lot, not all), view woman.

Firstly, I am slightly mystified by “funny.” What is funny about women in bikinis? If you asked this of what ever, please do enlighten me, because I fail to see the humour value. Do you go to the beach and die of laughter? Is there something about a barely covered woman that tickles your funny bone? Ok, that last bit just grossed me out a little (think and you’ll get it). Anyway, what about it makes it funny. I presume it would be the daftness of the concept of woman running into battle wearing a bikini, especially on snowy maps. It smacks a little of Arthur and his knights riding imaginary horses throughout the entire Monty Python and the Holy Grail film. Yet, why is it funny for just the woman to be in bikini? Why not also the men? Could they not wear Budgie Smugglers? That’s a Banana Hammock for you Americans. Certainly Mount Your Friends thinks so, in a deeply disturbing wash my mind with bleach kinda way. But then again, seeing men run into battle nearly naked, or even completely, is often reserved for the ultimate of badasses, think the Beowulf and 300 films. So in what way is it different for woman?

Well that brings me onto my next point, its for the process of ogling them. There really is no other other reason for it. Look to games like Dead or Alive: Xtreme, a game made for the sole purpose of getting all their female characters in bikinis, or Onechanbara: Bikini Samurai Sqaud, which combines my least two favourite things, Zombies and needless objectification. Ok, both of those are Japanese examples, but the make a lot of them (don’t even get me started on the Vampire/Demon/sun-allergic beat-em-up where you strip the baddies, although many of them are male… um I have no idea if that balances out now in my head). Sex sells. Why? Unfortunately, for all that our society is still making progress on the equality front, straight, white cis-men still have the highest disposable income. No offence if you are by the way, it certainly isn’t your fault, society as a whole still needs fixing. Back to my point! Most white, straight cis-men will be drawn to a game even more if it has even a little sex appeal. So games will often cater to that. Is it wrong? Yes. Will it ever stop? Unlikely. As long as “it would be funny if you could make the female soldiers on cod ghosts to wear bikinis” is still a phrase games will likely answer the call.

I can hear someone now (hopefully not anyone reading this blog) “But Emily (have I told you my name yet? Well I have now) didn’t you previously say you were ok with nudity as long as it serves a purpose? How is this any different?” Well my imaginary MRA sounding chum, My description of purpose was more or less aligned towards how the audience should interpret what is being shown to them. I do mention how arousal can help convey emotions, and nudity, or near nudity, can be used to convey this. However, in COD: Ghosts, you are in a war zone, shooting baddies, who in return are shooting you. You should feel exhilarated, pumped up, alive, not running around aroused. If you were playing against me, you wouldn’t get much of a look, as a large hole would be were your character’s eyes used to be. Of course you wouldn’t be playing against me, I’ll be of playing something decent while you sit around drooling over a bunch of polygons.

I Sold my Soul and Ideals, Only to get Insulted

I recently applied for a job in the games industry, with the biggest company in Scotland and arguably one of the most successful in the world, Rockstar North, creators of the Grand Theft Auto Series. I was even asked to attend an interview, though I can’t talk details for obvious reasons. I was excited, it was a huge possibility for me and could have lead to great things. I didn’t get it. It was a shame, because I really enjoyed meeting them. They were nice and friendly, well except one who seemed to avoid my gaze and not really look at me. I have no idea what he was thinking, but I do worry that it wasn’t nice.

Anyway, as part of the prep for the interview, I was asked to play GTA V. Not really an unreasonable request, but I got a little worried. I was torn between two issues. I really wanted the job, and so I should strive to play the game, but I swore not to buy the game because of its content. I of course didn’t tell them this, it was because I had no money and time as I was undertaking my Honours year at University (which as you should know was met with difficulties).

The reason the content made me swear not to play the game was because it was so insulting to so many groups, and Rockstar had also decided to include Trans characters. Not in a good way of course. Really this is all old news of course, Mitch wrote a brilliant piece on it for Gay Gamer, Bad Trans Jokes covered it in game and beyond and of course there was the Game Spot article in which Carolyn Petit dared to mark down a game for being misogynistic. So the issues were not only within the game, but also the community of fans. It painted a rather nasty picture which I did not really want to get into.

I’ll admit, the game looked amazing, and reviews (including Carolyn’s) all talked about the great gameplay within the game. I even watch videos of some one playing it, and was thankful when they released a video defending the GameSpot review.

So I decided to borrow my sisters copy, and used various sources to avoid problem areas. I did not wish to see the Trans Characters or go to the Strip Club. I successfully avoided them and found myself having fun, with only the issue of Trevor’s introduction. So after the fairly positive experience of the interview, I bought the game when it went on offer for £25, which was almost half its usual price. Then I spotted more issues.

While I had been avoiding the Strip Club, the game started to spawn me in it when I changed characters. Then I went and did a stupid thing. I checked the Fame or Shame Website. “Dancing Trannies,” “She Male Bop” and LGBT ais changed to LBGT so they can crack off the “joke” of it meaning “Lady Boy’s Gigantic Tits.” This is beyond poor stereotypes, this is blatant insults! She-Male and Tranny are insults, and I am no fan of Lady Boy either. I know “Trainnies” also appears on the Gay Bar’s windows, but this is a relatively accurate depiction of how some Gay men think it isn’t a slur (Rupaul for example (TW: to prove a point, the title of the linked article contains an anti gay slur)). Of course the media shares this idia, but to include along side She Male and Lady Boy is less a shout out to poor media representation, its actively taking part, especially considering all the other offenses. Also, the change of LGBT to LBGT for a joke about “Gigantic Tits” sounds like some silly school yard thing, were the very mention of Breasts, Penises, Anuses or Vaginas is funny. This is Carry On levels of puerile and I would know having enjoyed them as a silly young idiot.

Now I suspect that Rockstar does not have a single trans staff member. If they do they are either too spineless to call out this nonsense, too frightened they may loose their job, spoke up and lost their job or was silenced because all this was “too funny.” I don’t know, I certainly never saw any, although I wasn’t looking. I slightly worry if my own Trans Status had anything to do with not being accepted despite my skills from a Games Course. I again can’t know, but my request for reason as to why I did not get a job has gone unanswered, which does not alleviate these fears. Here is the funny thing though, if they didn’t there is a place not too far away were they could have gone to check their jokes, or even talk to some trans people to get some real experience. Rockstar North is situated in Edinburgh, and Edinburgh has a LGBT Centre for Health and Well Being, and pretty much every Month Trans Woman go their for something called Tea Time (there is one in Glasgow too). I have been to a couple, and they aren’t far from the Train Station. Neither is Rockstar North. In fact they are both walking distance away! Here is a map showing each location, with some directions!

Map

Not exactly miles away, its not even one!

With such easy access to Trans People who could have told them that what they would be doing is insulting, why didn’t they use this valuable resource? The could have made some brilliant jokes about Trans people were we are still legitimate people, not things to gawk at or be disgusted by. I’ll give you this brilliant one I found for free:

How do you find the Transsexual in a room full of Drag Queens?

Look for the girl in a t-shirt and jeans.

I just want to point out before signing off, I am not saying Rockstar is a big evil corporation. My fears of not getting the job for being Trans are as yet unfounded, and I would rejoice at being proven wrong. I just don’t like the insulting manner of Trans inclusion and have suggested how they may in future prevent such issues.