Thursday, September 16, 2010

Anomaly of Geek and Gamer Girls


















My name is Anne, I refuse to type /played while playing World of Warcraft, and I'm an Anomaly.


A few days ago, a group of women calling themselves “Team Unicorn” released a music video anthem titled “Geek and Gamer Girls” on break.com. We even linked it here on our Anomaly blog. The song is a parody of Katy Perry’s “California Girls” and was written and produced by Michele Boyd, Clare Grant, Milynn Sarley, and Rileah Vanderbilt. If you haven’t seen it, you should definitely check it out and form your own opinions before reading the rest of this article.



Geek and Gamer Girls Song - Watch more Funny Videos

Now a great many people enjoyed this video. Initially, it won me over with appearances by geek staples Seth Green, Stan Lee, and an Anomaly favorite: Katee Sackhoff. The production quality is high and the costume design is awesome. Michele Boyd of "The Guild" fame is especially badass and fetching in her female Han Solo cosplay outfit. I admit that I dislike Katy Perry immensely and so it would be hard for me to like her music, even when it has been heavily geekified by the likes of these ladies. My first problem with the video lies in the fact that I don’t think the song is performed particularly well. Yet, the wittiness of the lyrics carries it most of the way, Seth Green raps to perfection and keeps the viewer’s interest at a key point when boredom could settle in, and before you know it, the video is over in flourish of bright lights, and montage of everyone involved. The whole video was fun and the lyrics were clever even if they didn't always fit the meter perfectly.


Despite loving the subject matter and the people involved, the more I watched the video, the more I was left with a nasty aftertaste. After following Twitter feeds and the comments on break.com, I found I wasn’t alone.


Many women who watched the video have a problem with the objectification of the hot female gamers in it. They appear as geekerrific sex dolls interspersed with images of dorky males dancing in cosplay outfits. Placing half naked images of themselves lying on beds of comic books with game controller bikinis next to images of an overweight man cosplaying as Legolas creates the impression that they are the fantasy that all these geeky guys lust over and not skilled gamers within their own right.


Clearly, these ladies aren’t posers. They are each real gamers and they are belting out their anthem. The words are generally positive if you listen to them without the imagery. Take, for instance, the first verse.

“I, know a place
Where the gamer scores are so extreme (bloop boop boop!)
Dune, D & D,
Where Rand al’Thor still reigns supreme
Questin’, in Hyrule
Dominating Final Fantasy (Seven) (yeah yeah, siete)
Those boys
Losin’ sleep
Tryin’ ta keep up with our l33t sp34k (what up, n00bs?) (n00b sauce)-”

So far, the song is about our gamer scores being extreme, dominating a game, and being more geektastic than the boys who generally dominate this social sect. However, the lyrics take a turn at the bridge that leads into every chorus.


“Be a part of our world
In latex and bows
Cuz’ these girls play cos’
Set our phasers to stun
You’ll be falling in love
Ooooooh oh ooooooh”


All of the sudden, the song becomes a provacative invitation to men telling them they’ll fall in love with our hot latex cosplay outfits. This is the root of the conflict the song inspires in me as a viewer. On one hand these ladies are commanding attention for their l33t skills, but when it comes to the chorus, its becomes a siren song to lure men with sex appeal.


In addition, when Seth Green starts rapping in the bridge, he talks about Hogwarts boys making us swoon and Aragorn and Legolas being hot. Perhaps this is just a personal gripe of mine, but I am often frustrated that boys assume I like sci-fi/fantasy because the actors and characters are swoon worthy. You know what, boys, sometimes they are. I have a rather unhealthy crush on Alistair from Dragon Age Origins, but at the end of the day, I love the story and the setting more than anything else. Again, perhaps I’m taking this personally, but SEX WITH HOT KNIGHTS IS NOT ALL WE THINK ABOUT, BOYS! It’s some of what we think about... BUT NOT ALL! I think there are a lot of Anomalies out there who flaunt their love of sci fi by talking about how hot everyone is and not talking about the performances, the story crafting, and the effect of the show/movie/game/book on our culture. This behavior seems to me to be a bit more about attention seeking and less about discussions of substance. I think some women "go geek" in order to tap an audience of men that they know to be available. However, that is a topic for another day.


If you'd like to read the rest of the lyrics for "Geek and Gamer Girls," you can check them out on Michele Boyd's website.


In their defense, these ladies aren’t exactly being objectified because they are the ones who wrote and produced the video. They chose how they wanted to present themselves as gamers to the world. However, I would hazard to say that their choice to represent themselves in this way exemplifies the curse of being an Anomaly in the geek-o-verse. Is the only way we can be noticed within the geek and gamer community to sexualize our identities while singing about “pwning your a$$ in Halo?” Why can’t we just corpse camp your sorry bum and be done with it, fully clothed and locked and loaded? Within the gaming community we ladies take enough abuse with remarks like "get back in the kitchen" or the rampant opinion that women either don't game or those that do aren't serious about it, let alone skilled. I don't want to be seen as "so and so's girlfriend." I want to stake my claim to the highest dps in my guild and be proud of it.


So what? Should these gamer gals have uglied themselves up before shooting this video? It's not fair to assume that in order to be taken seriously you can't be hot. I don't take issue with them looking hot as much as the fact that they've made themselves the object of men's fantasies in the video, which detracts from the point that I believe they intended for this to be a fun anthem for girl gamers. I could be wrong, but I'm willing to make that assumption. I don't even think they realized their video would create such a dichotomy between it's viewers. Sometimes you can never know how your art is going to be received until you put it out there.


All in all, I think this video is fun and I look forward to seeing what Team Unicorn comes up with next. I simply wanted to open up a dialogue with the rest of my fellow Anomalies about their thoughts on the video. These ladies are talented and smart and Anomalies need to support each other in this community.


So say we all!



Further reading on this topic:

There is a great article by Edgar Garcia that expresses some very good opposing viewpoints.

21 comments:

Sue said...

Excellent points. I completely agree with your sentiments about being taking seriously in our own right.

But I have to say - I think "we" (women as a whole) brought these stereotypes upon ourselves, sadly. For example, having recently returned from Dragon*Con, I can say that nearly all females there participating in cosplay were mostly naked. Sure, there were a few women in Stargate duty fatigues, but most were in corsets, or Star Trek miniskirts, or just DUCT TAPE (not kidding). And this is what has become expected of women in the fandom. I even heard another con-goer comment that D*C was about "booze and boobs." It really did bother me, and make me a bit uncomfortable.

If we want to change this perception that all geek girls need to be objectified, the community as a whole will have to act together. If we want to be judged on our skill and geek cred, the first thing other see should not be our barely covered breasts. And I don't think it will ever happen. As long as I'm trying to game seriously in jeans and a tshirt, and the woman next to me is dressed like Caprica Six, I'll get left in the dust.

It makes me wonder how many of the negative comments on the video were written by women who were allowing themselves to be objectified just a week earlier at a con.

Sue said...

Oops, and also - Welcome to the Blog! Probably should have started with that...

Anne said...

Thanks for the welcome Sue! I totally agree with you. Like I said in the article, these women chose to portray themselves this way and MANY women in geekery do. And I have to say, I love going to Ren faires in NY and I enjoy wearing my little wench corset when I wear my costume. I'm just not comfortable with wearing a chain mail bikini with a broadsword. I leave that sort of stuff to Lucy Lawless. And it all is in good fun, after all. BUT you're right. I think we are PART of the perception and not just victimized by it. And to be completely honest, who doesn't wish they looked like Caprica six from time to time? :) I just wish that peeps didn't have to be hot in order to be noticed and that if they are total sex bombs and get noticed, that they can be taken seriously. One of life's little catch 22's

Sue said...

The more I thought about this, I kept coming back to the women we see in scifi. For the most part, the women on the screen are purposely made objects of desire as well. Sure, Sam Carter was never wearing a metal bikini, but the Tok'ra sure were. Starfleet uniforms are much more fitted on women than men, and then there's Seven... Even some of the strongest women in scifi have this failing: Aeryn Sun walks around in skin-tight leather, and Starbuck is a slut.

Is this because these show's were [maybe] producer/created/designed by men? Is it solely for ratings? Or does it say something deeper about what the geek culture expects of its female members?

Jen said...

Welcome to the blog, Anne. Thank you for writing such a thought provoking post. I agree with your sentiment, but what do you think about Felicia 'Day's Date My Avatar' video? Beside production value and over all awesomeness, how is the message any different?
I like the characters in The Guild and believe that they are quite dynamic, though exaggerated for the sake of comedy.

And aside from her gaming addiction, and other minor issues, Codex could be the poster child of gaming chicks...I guess you could say she is an Anomaly (and so is Felicia Day) :)

I think you're comment regarding the Unicorn chicks is very well made: "they've made themselves the object of men's fantasies in the video, which detracts from the point that I believe they intended for this to be a fun anthem for girl gamers." Sadly, I believe many geek girl podcasts do the same. :/

I also agree in part with Sue, but I don't think "we" (women as a whole) brought it on ourselves. Instead, I think SOME of us perpetuate the stereotype.

Most of the legit female con-goers are simply dressing as their favorite characters who happened to be scantily clad (ex Xena). The rest are opportunists(non-geeks) looking for a reason to wear next to nothing around a bunch of nerdy dudes.

But let me go back to how some of us perpetuate the stereo type. Sci-fi and fantasy often portrays women as half dressed bomb shells. It's a topic I've been wanting to talk about in a roundtable discussion on the Anomaly podcast. In TV, movies, comics, video games and Anime, there are precious few female characters who aren't busty, lusty chicks in cat suits or dominatrix attire. Why is that? Because the powers that be are catering to a male audience who wants to see hot chicks wearing tight clothes, or no clothes.

Here are some examples:
Video Games:
Juno Eclipse, Maris Brood and Shaak Ti from Star Wars: Force Unleashed and Lara Croft from Tomb Raider

Cartoons and Anime:
Ahsoka Tano from Star Wars Clone Wars
Almost all of the women in Anime

TV:
Seven Of Nine and T'Pol from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise, Six from the new Batttar Glactica, Jool, Aryn Sun, Sikozu and Chiana from Farscape,Cara Mason and Kahlan Amnell from the second season of Legend Of The Seeker

Movies:
LeeLoo from The Fifth Element,
Mikaela Banes from Transformers
The Borg Queen from Star Trek First Contact to name a few

Who do Anomalies want to see? Scott Bakula, Jerry O'Connell and Patrick Stewart, but not because the powers that be cast them to be chick magnets, but because they won our hearts with their awesomeness in general.

Regarding the corsets, I will probably be wearing one myself this year at the Texas Renaissance Festival. I'm a prude...so this is a big step for me. I'm not looking for male attention and neither are most of my corset wearing gal pals. There's nothing wrong with corsets and miniskirts (though they once were the 60's version of the catsuit). Duck tape and chainmail bikinis however, are pushing the envelope just a bit. :D But I guess it depends on how much skin is exposed.

Great discussion ladies! We must do a Skype episode on the subject soon.

Anne said...

You know, I thought about including a bit about "Date My Avatar," comparing and contrasting it, but I couldn't find a place for it in my post.

I think one of the big differences is that although Felicia/Codex is the one singing the song, it is referring to all of the characters. Everyone is at the sexy smoldering hilarious best and EVERYONE is objectified, not to mention that the cast is very diverse in terms of ethnicity, gender, age, and body type. At no time is Codex pictured with guy's leering at her. The closest it comes is the "Tank and Spank" moment where Vork spanks her with a broadsword (I can't believe I'm part of an intelligent discussion where I wrote that sentence LOL). The video focuses on all the characters giving "come hither" looks. Plus, there's no implied nudity in "Date My Avatar" and there is in "Geek and Gamer Girls." Everyone is on equal footing in that video and I think that is a major difference.

In "Geek and Gamer Girls" at times I think these ladies are both putting themselves in objectified positions as well as objectifying geek males (ie fat man dancing in cosplay as well as nerdy Legolas doing a crazy/bizarre/hilarious arrow shooting dance). There is a lot of "we are other" going on, whereas "Date My Avatar" seems to be a celebration rather than finger pointing/flaunting. I might be reading too far into that though.

"Date my Avatar" is an original song that deals with the fact that everyone is hotter when they can hide behind their gaming Avatar whereas "Geek and Gamer Girls" is a parody of Katy Perry's song and deals with the actual gamers placing themselves on a smoldering sexy pedestal of half naked geekery saying you know you'll "fall in love" with our "latex" and hot cosplay.

Honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if their association with the Katy Perry video lends to the negative association that some people are feeling regarding the project. That might just be my personal tastes, though.

I'd love to hear other people's thoughts on all of that as well.

The gaming industry has been dominated by male designers for so long that I think women fall into those categories as a force of habit because that was originally what was set out for them in the context of that community. We are now at a point that people like Felicia Day and the actual women within the community are A. proving themselves as avid gamers and B. changing the face of the consumer base. Games are beginning to change with bioware titles like "Mass Effect" and "Dragon Age" and Bethesda's "Oblivion" in which your gender is a factor in the game play, but does not define your personality, creed, or how much skin your armor covers. You don't have to create a relationship with a man if you're a woman and woman if you're playing a man. You are only limited by THE NPC's sexual preferences. You don't have be a sensual lady if you play a woman and when you are standing, you walk/gesture neutrally. The game doesn't imply the sexiness of your character. You do through your chose of words/interactions. That's probably why I prefer these games when it comes to playing on my console.

On that topic, here's a really great article about game design regarding female audiences and female characters: http://bit.ly/ddhK7n

I think this is a great topic for a podcast. I'd love to skype in for it if there's an opportunity!

Anne said...

Hilarious video on this topic from College Humor titled "Xbox Girls Get Revenge." NOTE: there is some strong language in this video that may not be appropriate for younger ears.

http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1939725

Sue said...

I'm not sure if I'd agree that women in fandom are just perpetuating a stereotype. Sure the characters in media are objectified, as I made that point as well, but that doesn't mean that female fans had to be. I don't know if there's any way to truly know, but I'd be curious as to when this whole thing started. I do believe that all stereotypes have a basis in truth, and we've all admitted to seeing evidence of it.

I'm wondering if it has some roots in overcompensation. If you think about it, for so long the geek community was stereotyped as pale, acne-covered losers, working at a video store, living in a basement with a computer. When the population of women in the community grew, did they/we try so hard to break that stereotype that all we did was create a new one of half-naked gamers that spout catchphrases all day?

I think we're (us, specifically, not the overarching "we" used previously) lucky to have the Anomaly community because we're all practical, intelligent, and "socially functional" geeks.

Also, on a side note, this is beginning to remind me of my "fangirl" rant a while back. ;)

Jen said...

What do you think blog subscribers?

Chris said...

As a male gamer, I must admit that when I first watched the video, I was thoroughly satisfied with it and didn't see a wink of harm, although reading this article and the subsequent comments has given me pause to consider the conflicting messages it sends.

We have a community of women gamers fighting to represent themselves without caving to the pressure of a male-dominated genre to become mascots. They're stranded between two extremes. On one hand you have women who adore the attention and enjoy dressing as sexy as possible because there is a hopeless community of introverts ready and willing to drool over them.
On the other hand, you have a sort of backwards feminism where some women cast off the idea that they are allowed to exert their sexuality without selling out. As a disarmingly clever OKCupid profile once said, "who says intelligence can't strut around in 4" stilettos?"

And yet on the other end of the gender seesaw you have the struggle between the pimple-covered basement dweller (comic book guy - Simpsons) and the muscle-clad ladykiller whose shirt magically rips off at a moment's notice (Goku - DBZ, or Armstrong - Full Metal Alchemist). Why the hell is Seth Green apparently as "cool" and flashy as Kanye West in a music video about playing video games?


…now that that's over with, a bit of a counterpoint to one of the comments.

Regarding the comment that "Games are beginning to change with bioware titles like "Mass Effect" and "Dragon Age" and Bethesda's "Oblivion"...

I haven't played Dragon Age of Oblivion, but I seem to recall that in Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson basically wears head to toe skin tight latex. And Jack (female character), walks around naked. Everywhere.

Now granted, this is not the first person character, and I will generously credit the game with the female Shepard character being every bit the deep, compelling, armor clad hero, and without the objectified apparel.

Still. As lovely as it is that they let Shepard be female, the rest of the title characters are quite the scantily cad space cowgirls. Although I will say I think the most interesting and engaging character is Tali, whose face you never see, although one might play devils advocate and point out that she has quite an incredible body, and perhaps that sends the message that her face doesn't matter...

Anyway, great article. Well written. And great comments :)

Chris said...

As a male gamer, I must admit that when I first watched the video, I was thoroughly satisfied with it and didn't see a wink of harm, although reading this article and the subsequent comments has given me pause to consider the conflicting messages it sends.

We have a community of women gamers fighting to represent themselves without caving to the pressure of a male-dominated genre to become mascots. They're stranded between two extremes. On one hand you have women who adore the attention and enjoy dressing as sexy as possible because there is a hopeless community of introverts ready and willing to drool over them.
On the other hand, you have a sort of backwards feminism where some women cast off the idea that they are allowed to exert their sexuality without selling out. As a disarmingly clever OKCupid profile once said, "who says intelligence can't strut around in 4" stilettos?"

And yet on the other end of the gender seesaw you have the struggle between the pimple-covered basement dweller (comic book guy - Simpsons) and the muscle-clad ladykiller whose shirt magically rips off at a moment's notice (Goku - DBZ, or Armstrong - Full Metal Alchemist). Why the hell is Seth Green apparently as "cool" and flashy as Kanye West in a music video about playing video games?


…now that that's over with, a bit of a counterpoint to one of the comments.

Regarding the comment that "Games are beginning to change with bioware titles like "Mass Effect" and "Dragon Age" and Bethesda's "Oblivion"...

I haven't played Dragon Age of Oblivion, but I seem to recall that in Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson basically wears head to toe skin tight latex. And Jack (female character), walks around naked. Everywhere.

Now granted, this is not the first person character, and I will generously credit the game with the female Shepard character being every bit the deep, compelling, armor clad hero, and without the objectified apparel.

Still. As lovely as it is that they let Shepard be female, the rest of the title characters are quite the scantily cad space cowgirls. Although I will say I think the most interesting and engaging character is Tali, whose face you never see, although one might play devils advocate and point out that she has quite an incredible body, and perhaps that sends the message that her face doesn't matter...

Anyway, great article. Well written. And great comments :)

Chris said...

As a male gamer, I must admit that when I first watched the video, I was thoroughly satisfied with it and didn't see a wink of harm, although reading this article and the subsequent comments has given me pause to consider the conflicting messages it sends.

We have a community of women gamers fighting to represent themselves without caving to the pressure of a male-dominated genre to become mascots. They're stranded between two extremes. On one hand you have women who adore the attention and enjoy dressing as sexy as possible because there is a hopeless community of introverts ready and willing to drool over them.
On the other hand, you have a sort of backwards feminism where some women cast off the idea that they are allowed to exert their sexuality without selling out. As a disarmingly clever OKCupid profile once said, "who says intelligence can't strut around in 4" stilettos?"

And yet on the other end of the gender seesaw you have the struggle between the pimple-covered basement dweller (comic book guy - Simpsons) and the muscle-clad ladykiller whose shirt magically rips off at a moment's notice (Goku - DBZ, or Armstrong - Full Metal Alchemist). Why the hell is Seth Green apparently as "cool" and flashy as Kanye West in a music video about playing video games?


…now that that's over with, a bit of a counterpoint to one of the comments.

Regarding the comment that "Games are beginning to change with bioware titles like "Mass Effect" and "Dragon Age" and Bethesda's "Oblivion"...

I haven't played Dragon Age of Oblivion, but I seem to recall that in Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson basically wears head to toe skin tight latex. And Jack (female character), walks around naked. Everywhere.

Now granted, this is not the first person character, and I will generously credit the game with the female Shepard character being every bit the deep, compelling, armor clad hero, and without the objectified apparel.

Still. As lovely as it is that they let Shepard be female, the rest of the title characters are quite the scantily cad space cowgirls. Although I will say I think the most interesting and engaging character is Tali, whose face you never see, although one might play devils advocate and point out that she has quite an incredible body, and perhaps that sends the message that her face doesn't matter...

Anyway, great article. Well written. And great comments :)

Chris said...

As a male gamer, I must admit that when I first watched the video, I was thoroughly satisfied with it and didn't see a wink of harm, although reading this article and the subsequent comments has given me pause to consider the conflicting messages it sends.

We have a community of women gamers fighting to represent themselves without caving to the pressure of a male-dominated genre to become mascots. They're stranded between two extremes. On one hand you have women who adore the attention and enjoy dressing as sexy as possible because there is a hopeless community of introverts ready and willing to drool over them.
On the other hand, you have a sort of backwards feminism where some women cast off the idea that they are allowed to exert their sexuality without selling out. As a disarmingly clever OKCupid profile once said, "who says intelligence can't strut around in 4" stilettos?"

And yet on the other end of the gender seesaw you have the struggle between the pimple-covered basement dweller (comic book guy - Simpsons) and the muscle-clad ladykiller whose shirt magically rips off at a moment's notice (Goku - DBZ, or Armstrong - Full Metal Alchemist). Why the hell is Seth Green apparently as "cool" and flashy as Kanye West in a music video about playing video games?


…now that that's over with, a bit of a counterpoint to one of the comments.

Regarding the comment that "Games are beginning to change with bioware titles like "Mass Effect" and "Dragon Age" and Bethesda's "Oblivion"...

I haven't played Dragon Age of Oblivion, but I seem to recall that in Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson basically wears head to toe skin tight latex. And Jack (female character), walks around naked. Everywhere.

Now granted, this is not the first person character, and I will generously credit the game with the female Shepard character being every bit the deep, compelling, armor clad hero, and without the objectified apparel.

Still. As lovely as it is that they let Shepard be female, the rest of the title characters are quite the scantily cad space cowgirls. Although I will say I think the most interesting and engaging character is Tali, whose face you never see, although one might play devils advocate and point out that she has quite an incredible body, and perhaps that sends the message that her face doesn't matter...

Anyway, great article. Well written. And great comments :)

Chris said...

As a male gamer, I must admit that when I first watched the video, I was thoroughly satisfied with it and didn't see a wink of harm, although reading this article and the subsequent comments has given me pause to consider the conflicting messages it sends.

We have a community of women gamers fighting to represent themselves without caving to the pressure of a male-dominated genre to become mascots. They're stranded between two extremes. On one hand you have women who adore the attention and enjoy dressing as sexy as possible because there is a hopeless community of introverts ready and willing to drool over them.
On the other hand, you have a sort of backwards feminism where some women cast off the idea that they are allowed to exert their sexuality without selling out. As a disarmingly clever OKCupid profile once said, "who says intelligence can't strut around in 4" stilettos?"

And yet on the other end of the gender seesaw you have the struggle between the pimple-covered basement dweller (comic book guy - Simpsons) and the muscle-clad ladykiller whose shirt magically rips off at a moment's notice (Goku - DBZ, or Armstrong - Full Metal Alchemist). Why the hell is Seth Green apparently as "cool" and flashy as Kanye West in a music video about playing video games?


…now that that's over with, a bit of a counterpoint to one of the comments.

Regarding the comment that "Games are beginning to change with bioware titles like "Mass Effect" and "Dragon Age" and Bethesda's "Oblivion"...

I haven't played Dragon Age of Oblivion, but I seem to recall that in Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson basically wears head to toe skin tight latex. And Jack (female character), walks around naked. Everywhere.

Now granted, this is not the first person character, and I will generously credit the game with the female Shepard character being every bit the deep, compelling, armor clad hero, and without the objectified apparel.

Still. As lovely as it is that they let Shepard be female, the rest of the title characters are quite the scantily cad space cowgirls. Although I will say I think the most interesting and engaging character is Tali, whose face you never see, although one might play devils advocate and point out that she has quite an incredible body, and perhaps that sends the message that her face doesn't matter...

Anyway, great article. Well written. And great comments :)

Melizande said...

As a male gamer, I must admit that when I first watched the video, I was thoroughly satisfied with it and didn't see a wink of harm, although reading this article and the subsequent comments has given me pause to consider the conflicting messages it sends.

We have a community of women gamers fighting to represent themselves without caving to the pressure of a male-dominated genre to become mascots. They're stranded between two extremes. On one hand you have women who adore the attention and enjoy dressing as sexy as possible because there is a hopeless community of introverts ready and willing to drool over them.
On the other hand, you have a sort of backwards feminism where some women cast off the idea that they are allowed to exert their sexuality without selling out. As a disarmingly clever OKCupid profile once said, "who says intelligence can't strut around in 4" stilettos?"

And yet on the other end of the gender seesaw you have the struggle between the pimple-covered basement dweller (comic book guy - Simpsons) and the muscle-clad ladykiller whose shirt magically rips off at a moment's notice (Goku - DBZ, or Armstrong - Full Metal Alchemist). Why the hell is Seth Green apparently as "cool" and flashy as Kanye West in a music video about playing video games?


…now that that's over with, a bit of a counterpoint to one of the comments.

Regarding the comment that "Games are beginning to change with bioware titles like "Mass Effect" and "Dragon Age" and Bethesda's "Oblivion"...

I haven't played Dragon Age of Oblivion, but I seem to recall that in Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson basically wears head to toe skin tight latex. And Jack (female character), walks around naked. Everywhere.

Now granted, this is not the first person character, and I will generously credit the game with the female Shepard character being every bit the deep, compelling, armor clad hero, and without the objectified apparel.

Still. As lovely as it is that they let Shepard be female, the rest of the title characters are quite the scantily cad space cowgirls. Although I will say I think the most interesting and engaging character is Tali, whose face you never see, although one might play devils advocate and point out that she has quite an incredible body, and perhaps that sends the message that her face doesn't matter...

Anyway, great article. Well written. And great comments :)

• Chris

Melizande said...

As a male gamer, I must admit that when I first watched the video, I was thoroughly satisfied with it and didn't see a wink of harm, although reading this article and the subsequent comments has given me pause to consider the conflicting messages it sends.

We have a community of women gamers fighting to represent themselves without caving to the pressure of a male-dominated genre to become mascots. They're stranded between two extremes. On one hand you have women who adore the attention and enjoy dressing as sexy as possible because there is a hopeless community of introverts ready and willing to drool over them.
On the other hand, you have a sort of backwards feminism where some women cast off the idea that they are allowed to exert their sexuality without selling out. As a disarmingly clever OKCupid profile once said, "who says intelligence can't strut around in 4" stilettos?"

And yet on the other end of the gender seesaw you have the struggle between the pimple-covered basement dweller (comic book guy - Simpsons) and the muscle-clad ladykiller whose shirt magically rips off at a moment's notice (Goku - DBZ, or Armstrong - Full Metal Alchemist). Why the hell is Seth Green apparently as "cool" and flashy as Kanye West in a music video about playing video games?


…now that that's over with, a bit of a counterpoint to one of the comments.

Regarding the comment that "Games are beginning to change with bioware titles like "Mass Effect" and "Dragon Age" and Bethesda's "Oblivion"...

I haven't played Dragon Age of Oblivion, but I seem to recall that in Mass Effect 2, Miranda Lawson basically wears head to toe skin tight latex. And Jack (female character), walks around naked. Everywhere.

Now granted, this is not the first person character, and I will generously credit the game with the female Shepard character being every bit the deep, compelling, armor clad hero, and without the objectified apparel.

Still. As lovely as it is that they let Shepard be female, the rest of the title characters are quite the scantily cad space cowgirls. Although I will say I think the most interesting and engaging character is Tali, whose face you never see, although one might play devils advocate and point out that she has quite an incredible body, and perhaps that sends the message that her face doesn't matter...

Anyway, great article. Well written. And great comments :)

• Chris

Sarah said...

I think I totally agree with you for most points. I watched the video first, so as to form my own opinion and at first I was like "ooh! this is cooL! I like it!" and then all of the sudden they are nude with lightsabers over their boobs!? Then I was kindof like..."yeah...should have seen that coming" Like you said I don't think that they should have like uglied themselves up or anything, because part of being an Anomaly to me is to love all that geeky stuff, love getting our hands dirty, love playing with swords and going to cons, and STILL being feminine if we want to and looking pretty if we're feeling it. That's what an anomaly is, a sort of contradiction, we can play with the boys but we don't have to look like one to do it. But do we always have to bring the nakedness into it!? For seriously, I am pretty sure guys would have watched this video and taken it seriously even if they weren't lying on comic books in the nude. (which when you think about it...is pretty sick seeing as even gorgeous girls sweat...:-D )
I remember I was on a mostly male dominated geek gamer website and there was this picture of a girl lying on video games, nude with controllers over the 'fine china', and the guy writing the article nailed it when he said something like "so just cause you are a hot girl who is naked and just happens to be surrounded by gamer paraphernalia...we're supposed to take that as you're a gamer???" he totally saw it as a shallow bid for attention.
All in all these girls seemed pretty cool! I just hope that when we see more from them...we don't see TOO much again! :)

Anne said...

Thanks for your comments Sarah and Chris!

This video was a part of the further reading article I linked at the bottom of mine and I found it both hilarious and very insightful. Sue, what you inspired me to link the vid here after reading what you said about gamer guys on that website not taking that super sexpot gamer photo seriously.

So watch away!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8ZVZRsy8N8#t=7m18s

Sue said...

Oooh, that wasn't me, that was Sarah. But I still absolutely love that video. So true.

I was referring to a post I made about a year about, when I got annoyed one day that "fangirl" and "fanboy" imply a much greater difference than just gender. Here's what I'm talking about: http://anomalypodcast.blogspot.com/2009/08/line-must-be-drawn-here.html

Just like in gaming, it's expected that women in fandom are not really fans. Not passionate about a show, but obsessed with an actor. Sadly I feel that women in gaming and fandom will remain a minority, and the women who refuse to objectify themselves for attention will be a very small subset. le sigh.

Archangela said...

i posted something awesome and then the internet hosed it. will save for podcast. playing KOTOR now!! bye... great post Ann!!

Mariah Fryer said...

All of the comments here have made really great, valid points. But there's one aspect that hasn't been looked at - Mainstream expectations in media.

This video was originally hosted by Break.com. One of todays hotlinks is "20 pictures of sexy disney cosplay" (http://www.break.com/pictures/belle-and-princess-jasmine) As a front page hotlink, you can see what you are in for with this site.

There is a certain amount of visual stimulation that seems to be almost required to get videos up and running (and this is a fairly new project, so comparing it to the guild's "Date my Avatar" would be a bit erroneous).

But to me what the skimpiness implies is over-compensation. I play wow and I have an X-box live account and what I hear so often when people discover I'm a girl is "Are you hot?" In some ways this is a knee jerk reaction on the part of adolescents. But there seems to be this expectation that if a girl is a gamer, and is GOOD (this is the caveat here) then she couldn't possibly be a looker. So when a girl is nice looking and a gamer it's almost as if she feels the need to push farther than she normally would to look attractive.

And on a more artistic level, this is still, at it's heart, a parody, so they may be maintaining some of the original sexualization of the original video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CwE-SLnLkqY

Do any of the aforementioned points make gamer girls look better? No not really, but I'll say this - it's somewhat satisfying to sneak attack. Just because I'm dressed like Emma Frost* doesn't mean I can't game with the best of them, and I think that's the point made at the heart of this anthem.

*(http://www.adherents.com/lit/comics/img/e/Emma_Frost.jpg