Author Topic: Tropes vs Women in Video Games  (Read 92179 times)

Offline Neonivek

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #40 on: December 08, 2012, 09:45:03 PM »
Thread successfully derailed.

*takes bow*

Hardly, people have a certain period of time they are active on the board.

I am current waiting for the people to remain active again so they can respond to my post.

You cannot derail it simply because the train has stopped and they will continue the debate/arguement/conversation when they come back anyway. Hense why I had no problem with indulging you.
« Last Edit: December 08, 2012, 09:47:03 PM by Neonivek »

Offline snabbott

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #41 on: December 08, 2012, 10:28:34 PM »
Neonivek, if I'm understanding correctly, one of the points you were trying to make was this:
There's nothing inherently wrong with the existence of a female "damsel in distress" character or a male rescuer. The problem arises when the majority of female characters are presented as helpless and in need of a man to rescue them. (The same goes for the other stereotypes.) Does that sound right? I would agree with this, because I'm sure that for most stereotypes, there are people out there that really are like that. However there needs to be a balanced mix of characteristics among both male and female characters.

I'm not sure if it would be possible to make a "damsel in distress" a good character because it is SO overdone that it would just come across as an offensive stereotype. I'm not sure, but I don't think Deloria was saying that being rescued would necessarily make someone a better person but rather that it *could* do so and that it could be used to further develop the character.

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Offline Neonivek

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #42 on: December 08, 2012, 10:51:49 PM »
You can make a good Damsel in distress

What often makes a bad Demsel are when you get the idea that they are overly complacent.

The Maid Marium (Sorry for butchered name) from Robin Hood COULD be seen as a Damsel in distress done right. She is proactive and helps Robin Hood plenty of times. She lacks the ability to save herself and needs Robin Hoods help to do so, but she by far is willing to put the work in to change things herself.

Often the good balance for a "well done damsel" is getting the balance between a character who is active enough to do the work yet not so competent that she should know or do better.

Aunt May in Spiderman is also a Damsel who has been done right as well.

Offline Bludshot

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #43 on: December 08, 2012, 11:33:24 PM »
You cannot make a good damsel in distress, their entire existence is to benefit the story of the male protagonist.

I can't attest to Aunt May in the comics, but her point in the movies is to be attacked and/or kidnapped so Spiderman can have a reason to fight the bad guy.  Heck Cassima gets pushed into this role twice.

While not every character needs to be there own fully developed trope-free being, the problem is that this is a role women almost exclusively fill.  In situations where there is a female protagonist the male sidekick/love interest rarely gets the same treatment. 

That is really the point, that any female presence in media, in this case videogames, is far too often an accessory for the male character.



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Offline Neonivek

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #44 on: December 09, 2012, 01:33:04 AM »
Quote
You cannot make a good damsel in distress, their entire existence is to benefit the story of the male protagonist

There are plenty of male damsels out there.

Even then there is nothing wrong with that type of character in it of themselves.

Though if you want an example to disprove your point I am going to go with Elaine from Monkey Island. She always gets kidnapped, always guybrushes fault, and only serves to provide the motivation for Guybrush to go and try to save her, where she saves herself, where guybrush then has to save the day, because he messed up Elaine's plan.

Mind you the arguement you CAN make is that since Monkey Island is a comedy that Elaine's competence is in fact done in farce.

Mind you one of the reasons why there are a lot more female damsels is because there is RARELY a male damsel for a male hero (and if there is, he is annoying comic relief). In that respect there are also few Female Damsels for Female heros. With female damsels for female heros happening in series that have almost no males (if not outright there being no males).
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 02:20:07 AM by Neonivek »

Offline Deloria

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #45 on: December 09, 2012, 02:50:08 AM »
I'm not sure if it would be possible to make a "damsel in distress" a good character because it is SO overdone that it would just come across as an offensive stereotype. I'm not sure, but I don't think Deloria was saying that being rescued would necessarily make someone a better person but rather that it *could* do so and that it could be used to further develop the character.
I feel that trauma is good for character development in art because it makes the characters evolve very quickly and intensely in a medium in which the developers usually do not have enough time to explore changes that come about much more slowly. :P Likewise I think the existence of a pre-existing relationship between the saviour and the damsel will mean that he will be confronted and impacted with these issues too.
 
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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #46 on: December 09, 2012, 01:32:43 PM »
There are definitely examples that go against the tropes--Elaine being the far more competent character out of her and Guybrush is a great example, in fact. But the thing is that she is an exception, and not the standard.

The problem is, as snabbott pointed out, that there are far MORE cases where the damsel is not more than that. She's just a two-dimensional set piece there to be an accessory to the male protagonist. Rarely given depth, personality, emotions, or anything of the sort. Let's take the Princess in the original Prince of Persia game for an example--there is nothing to her character. We're told they're in love that the evil male villain has taken her captive, and its up to male hero to save her. If you succeed, the only thing you ever see of her at the end is her running into the hero's arm. That's it.

That set up is a classic example: her entire world, situation, etc, is determined by the male characters around her. One has captured her, one liberates her. It's implied that whoever "wins" will be the one she marries, too.

Now, yes, this game doesn't have much characterization for any character in it, BUT the hero and the villain are at least given bare bones personalities via the story, and far more active roles in the story. The female is nothing. She may as well be a magic crown or sword and she'd have done exactly as much in the game as she does to begin with.

Again, there are exceptions--and hooray for those exceptions! But the "issue" is that they are the more rare occurrences and that they stand out for being such, instead of being an accepted norm the way the white male hero who saves the day is.

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Offline Neonivek

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #47 on: December 09, 2012, 01:48:13 PM »
Quote
But the thing is that she is an exception, and not the standard

I am just trying to establish an exception. The major difference to mine and Bludshot's arguement is that I am saying that Damsel can be done well and respectfully while Bludshot outright says that Damsel (which I assume he means a female damsel) cannot be done anything but negatively.

Quote
Let's take the Princess in the original Prince of Persia game

Does even the prince have a personality in these games?

Quote
She may as well be a magic crown or sword and she'd have done exactly as much in the game as she does to begin with.

She is magical to my knowledge (though that is established in the second, where she gets more speaking lines then the Prince and Villain combined... but it is mostly her egging you to hurry and save her).

Either way the issue is that the only way out of that would be to just not include the princess. Which would just be sort of weird.

-

Mind you when I like to show how women are mistreated in videogames I look no further then "Other M" from Metroid. Which takes one of the most battle hardened videogame characters of all time and gives her "Issues" inspite of the fact that she should be more competent.

It honestly could be used as the template for how to make a terrible female protagonist.

Mind you if the game was a prequil, it isn't, it could have worked excellently.

You know what happens in the game? Samus becomes a Damsel and needs to be saved by a man.

Why is this example of a damsel one I consider insulting to women? Because this is Samus. This is an established strong female character who is given a weakness she never had before as a way of making her more "Girly".

It is one thing to make a weak pathetic female character because ultimately that can be a weak pathetic character who happens to be female where her traits as a female doesn't factor into the reason she is weak and pathetic. It is another to make a strong and brave female character who happens to be weak and pathetic because she is a woman.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 01:57:13 PM by Neonivek »

Offline Blackthorne

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #48 on: December 09, 2012, 02:10:22 PM »
There's only two standard genders.  You're going to offend one or the other.  The only way to keep it safe is to make all characters, at all times, hermaphrodites.


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Offline Neonivek

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #49 on: December 09, 2012, 02:31:42 PM »
There's only two standard genders.  You're going to offend one or the other.  The only way to keep it safe is to make all characters, at all times, hermaphrodites.

Honestly it has gotten to the point where I thought of just excluding all female characters from the fiction I am writing/making simply because there is NO way to potray a woman in an inoffensive manner. Even one who I based purely on my older sister I found to be steriotypical and likely offensive inspite being my older sister.

Still though... it could be worse. As I said "Other M" is probably some of the most offensive material to women ever made.

Offline stika

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #50 on: December 09, 2012, 02:31:51 PM »
There are definitely examples that go against the tropes--Elaine being the far more competent character out of her and Guybrush is a great example, in fact. But the thing is that she is an exception, and not the standard.

I have to disagree with this one.  Elaine is following a very old trope herself if you ask me.

You used to see it all the time in cartoons back in the 80's and early 90's.

These were the princesses that saved themselves, or the very competent sidekick

A few examples at the top of my mind:

Penny from Inspector Gadget
Princess Guinevere from King's Arthur Disasters
Velma from Scooby-doo
Zelda, from the Legend of Zelda cartoon
Babs bunny from Tiny Toons
Dot from the animaniacs

heck if we want more recent examples, we have princess Fiona from Shrek
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 02:34:39 PM by stika »

Offline Lambonius

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #51 on: December 09, 2012, 02:32:28 PM »
Give me a break, everyone.

In this day and age, the "strong-willed female lead" is just as much, if not moreso, a ridiculous stereotype than the traditional "damsel-in-distress."  They're both obnoxious cliches, both sexist, and both way overused.  

Offline Neonivek

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #52 on: December 09, 2012, 02:34:07 PM »
So thus there is no way to potray a woman except to make her bland and uninteresting. Congradulations.

Well ok I don't believe that, but that is really where things go when you forget that it isn't about roles but really how those roles are threated and how often they are used.

The "Strong-Willed Female lead" for example is hardly insulting on its own. It is VERY insulting when it is used as "Ohh my a woman being a strong willed female lead? How peculiar".

It is why "Other M" is insulting.. because it weakened a competent female character because she was a woman. It treated being a woman as a weakness.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 02:38:32 PM by Neonivek »

Offline stika

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #53 on: December 09, 2012, 02:38:54 PM »
So thus there is no way to potray a woman except to make her bland and uninteresting. Congradulations.

Honestly, the best advice I'd give to someone who is writting a female character is: Just make the character you want to make.

I remember I when I used to RP I created a female character, she was inspired off of both 80's sci-fi and fantasy B-movies, from Conan: The Barbarian, all the way to Space Mutiny and Heavy Metal.

She fell into a LOT of tropes, a lot of them not so flattering. In the end she turned out to be my most popular characters with both male and female players, seriously, everyone loved her.

So... yeah, just make the character you want to make and screw all else, because as long as you're a guy writing a female a character, there's a good chance either be accused of being sexist, pandering or writing a bland character because this seems to be hot topic these past couple of years
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 02:42:46 PM by stika »

Offline Lambonius

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #54 on: December 09, 2012, 02:39:21 PM »

The "Strong-Willed Female lead" for example is hardly insulting on its own.

I disagree here.  The whole notion of "Strong-Willed Female Lead" is inherently sexist.  It's the writer basically saying, "Hey, this strong lead character is especially exceptional because she is also a woman and women are traditionally weak."

But anyway, whether or not it is sexist was not really my point.  The point is, it's a very common cliche in today's entertainment media.  I think nowadays we actually see "Strong-Willed Female Lead" more often than "Damsel-in-Distress."
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 02:42:03 PM by Lambonius »

Offline stika

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #55 on: December 09, 2012, 02:56:14 PM »
by the way, if you guys have the time, this is one of the best articles on this subject that I've read in recent years

Offline KatieHal

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #56 on: December 09, 2012, 03:14:32 PM »
I haven't played really any Metroid game, but I've heard that about Other M more than once, and from what I've read...yeah, way to muck that one up, guys. I'd also say there's some sexism built into how Samus's outfits have changed over the years as well.

There is absolutely a way to make a female character interesting--the same way you make a male one interesting. Make her an actual character! Flesh her out, give her a personality, motivations, etc. Don't ignore that their gender exists and will influence who they are, but don't let it be the only defining characteristic about them either. Make it one aspect out of the many that they should have.

And know that there is no way to please all the people all of the time. But you can certainly try to not offend them at the very least.

I read a recent article about how some of the most interesting female action movie characters have been ones who weren't originally written as females--specifically it talked about Ripley in Alien and Angelina Jolie's character in Salt.

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Offline stika

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #57 on: December 09, 2012, 03:54:10 PM »
I haven't played really any Metroid game, but I've heard that about Other M more than once, and from what I've read...yeah, way to muck that one up, guys. I'd also say there's some sexism built into how Samus's outfits have changed over the years as well.

There is absolutely a way to make a female character interesting--the same way you make a male one interesting. Make her an actual character! Flesh her out, give her a personality, motivations, etc. Don't ignore that their gender exists and will influence who they are, but don't let it be the only defining characteristic about them either. Make it one aspect out of the many that they should have.

And know that there is no way to please all the people all of the time. But you can certainly try to not offend them at the very least.

I read a recent article about how some of the most interesting female action movie characters have been ones who weren't originally written as females--specifically it talked about Ripley in Alien and Angelina Jolie's character in Salt.
don't these two directly contradict each other?

Offline Neonivek

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #58 on: December 09, 2012, 04:15:27 PM »
Quote
So... yeah, just make the character you want to make and screw all else, because as long as you're a guy writing a female a character, there's a good chance either be accused of being sexist, pandering or writing a bland character because this seems to be hot topic these past couple of years

It is so hard to do because I made her after I made my perfect male lead. Thus she cannot step on his heels.

Thus I ended up making a nearly mute hands on woman who was only child to a family of farmers who is psychologically mute (She cannot speak because of an insudent), being the more practical and dirrect of the two. Admittingly she isn't a damsel, but these traits can just as easily be seen as sexist. In fact one of the reasons she cannot speak was specifically because the male lead does almost nothing but talk and I wanted to make her gameplay be done with no speach whatsoever.

I created her with the intent that she would give a different style then her husband who was created before I even had the intent of a wife, but chose to have one as a way to style a series of games. So while the Male lead of the first game would talk a lot and be very scholarly with his solutions involving thinking out solutions. She would be more about using her wits and abilities and being more of a much more pure example of an adventurer (In otherwords she is a more traditional point and click hero). Where they are similar however is more subtle and that I developed more when I thought of creating a stand alone game about her since out of the two she has the more interesting backstory.

Yet creating a husband and wife duo where they are there to play up different traits... Is also a steriotype in it of itself.
« Last Edit: December 09, 2012, 04:18:57 PM by Neonivek »

Offline stika

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Re: Tropes vs Women in Video Games
« Reply #59 on: December 09, 2012, 04:24:24 PM »
Quote
So... yeah, just make the character you want to make and screw all else, because as long as you're a guy writing a female a character, there's a good chance either be accused of being sexist, pandering or writing a bland character because this seems to be hot topic these past couple of years

It is so hard to do because I made her after I made my perfect male lead. Thus she cannot step on his heels.

Thus I ended up making a nearly mute hands on woman who was only child to a family of farmers who is psychologically mute (She cannot speak because of an insudent), being the more practical and dirrect of the two. Admittingly she isn't a damsel, but these traits can just as easily be seen as sexist. In fact one of the reasons she cannot speak was specifically because the male lead does almost nothing but talk and I wanted to make her gameplay be done with no speach whatsoever.

I created her with the intent that she would give a different style then her husband who was created before I even had the intent of a wife, but chose to have one as a way to style a series of games. So while the Male lead of the first game would talk a lot and be very scholarly with his solutions involving thinking out solutions. She would be more about using her wits and abilities and being more of a much more pure example of an adventurer (In otherwords she is a more traditional point and click hero). Where they are similar however is more subtle and that I developed more when I thought of creating a stand alone game about her since out of the two she has the more interesting backstory.

Yet creating a husband and wife duo where they are there to play up different traits... Is also a steriotype in it of itself.
I'm afraid I can't really help you, as I said, just try to make the character you want to make without worrying what other people will think.