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#1 Edited by PlayPaul (54 posts) -

Patrick and Carolyn Petit (in a response to Patrick on Twitter) both referred to websites discussing gender roles in The Last of Us, but both coming to an opposite conclusion.

The article in Edge describes The Last of Us as a progressive take on the gender roles in videogames while the article in the NYT faults The Last of Us for favouring the male.

Both articles are an interesting read and present valid points, but during my play through of The Last of Us I never really questioned the portrayal of the female (or male) characters. I was surprised by how strong all the female characters were portrayed (especially in a big budget videogame). Over the course of the game, Ellie turned into a much 'stronger' character than Joel for me. You could read the final rescue of Ellie as a way of setting up that 'male fantasy' of rescuing the girl but after completing that sequence having to feel really ambivalent about the rescue. You could argue that the game questions this selfish fantasy if you look at it from a feminist perspective. I also like the way the game handled the ending of the Winter section. The game sets up Joel as the knight in shining white armour to rescue 'helpless' Ellie, but Ellie has already taken care of the situation (and is the reason Joel is still alive).

Still, I wonder if I'm justifying certain stereotypical or in-equal representations because I love the game so much. It could have been cool if the character switch between Joel and Ellie was permanent for the final stretch of the game for instance. Or why is a harder for me to imagine a big budget game with an adult female character and a young boy.

I know I'm treading on thin ice here discussing feminist readings and stuff, but I wonder what the male and female readers of Giant Bomb experienced and think about this issue.

EDIT: I apologise for starting this topic and I don't want to start a flame war or anything. I was just fascinated by the way the NYT article framed The Last of Us in a different (and I think unfair) misogynist light.

#2 Posted by JasonR86 (9723 posts) -

lol

#3 Posted by psylah (2185 posts) -

"I enjoyed the game, but I should feel ashamed for being a straight white male!"

http://img134.imageshack.us/img134/7495/arieg5.gif

#4 Edited by mrfluke (5340 posts) -

get ready for this thread to spike up. (will be tipping off the mods to watch this thread)

to add something meaningful though, i thought it was handled equally though, felt like joel and ellie were equal protagonists as both were dependent on each other.

but naughty dog is usually good at this stuff, chole and elena from uncharted were great female characters also

the whole favoriting one over the other.... they can fuckk offf with that whole thing, what if thats how they wanted to tell their story, they emphasize the strength of the female characters in this game, to say they are favoriting joel is ridiculous imo if they had a co op mode with these characters, then that wouldnt be a thing.,

but this is videogames, ultimately you cant please everyone, constants and variables. constants = always will be 2 groups, the people that favor things, and the contrarians,

variables = the sizes of the 2 parties.

(not responding to anyone btw, im not here to start arguments or engage in arguments, im just saying my piece and running out of this thread)

#5 Edited by Live2bRighteous (317 posts) -

This is kind of silly.

#6 Edited by skrutop (3615 posts) -

@playpaul: having a female lead taking care of a young child instead of a male is a really interesting idea.

#7 Edited by Colourful_Hippie (4486 posts) -

I think the inconsistent framerate is more noticeable in the game than gender equality issues. This is dumb.

#8 Edited by JasonR86 (9723 posts) -

@skrutop:

I'm sure that'd make someone pissed for some reason. 'Women can only take care of kids is that it?' or something like that. It's so hard to win with this topic because everyone interpretes it differently.

#9 Edited by psylah (2185 posts) -

@skrutop said:

@playpaul: having a female lead taking care of a young child instead of a male is a really interesting idea.

They'll complain that females are being pigeon-holed into motherhood roles.

#10 Posted by wrecks (2317 posts) -

It is getting to the point that a game cannot have a male protagonist without someone going off about it having messed up gender roles. Discussions on the subject are fine, but lately it feels like an attack campaign against the male species.

#11 Edited by Popogeejo (616 posts) -

Why would you try and talk about gender equality on GB where 90% of the people who post thinks it means "All men are evil and you should all be ashamed for having penises!"

It's like going to a Klan meeting and talking about racial equality.

Not that it's just the vocal part of the GB user base, it's people who identify themselves as "gamers" in general.

#12 Posted by PlayPaul (54 posts) -

@skrutop: I agree, but I don't see a big budget game doing that any time soon (but maybe I'm wrong).

And already apologize for starting this topic :-), but I thought the two differing standpoints were kinda interesting.

#13 Posted by PlayPaul (54 posts) -

@popogeejo: I wouldn't post it on any other website, but the Giant Bomb community seems like a intelligent crowd (but I guess it's still the internet).

#14 Edited by JasonR86 (9723 posts) -

@popogeejo:

Why? No one has done that yet? Why shit on people for what they might do? Just discuss the topic dude and react this way when people actually do what you're saying they will do.

#15 Posted by Optix12 (625 posts) -

@skrutop: thinking about that I wonder if that could have worked in the last of us. From what I can remember only very minor tweaking would be needed to incorporate Tess as the main character.

In my view (its my opinion) I feel naughty dog handled all the female characters really well. All of them were pretty strong in their portrayal including Sarah. Also as the story goes I can see how its valid what happens at the start of the game happens. Is it also just me or do people not like the start of this game? I enjoyed it as a period of setting out the world, how it is and a general introduction of enemies etc. with some introduction to the cast of TLOU

#16 Posted by SlashDance (1843 posts) -

I say it everytime, but I feel like if Dead or Alive Xtream Beach Volleyball came out today, the universe would probably collapse on itself.

#17 Posted by Crash_Happy (737 posts) -

@playpaul: Ellie saved Joel, she was stronger throughout the whole time. The interpretation of the ending seems purposefully open and I think you bring as much to it as you take away.

Online
#18 Posted by Petiew (1360 posts) -

That second article is dumb.

#19 Posted by Reisz (1527 posts) -

Weird. The Last of Us has some of the finest writing and most even handed, natural characterisation in video games. That NYT article is barking up the wrong tree.

"Perhaps it is unfair to visit the sins of the medium upon a work as well made as this one."

Then why'd you waste fifteen paragraphs doing exactly that?

#20 Posted by DukesT3 (1945 posts) -

I'm pretty sure gender roles was the last thing I was thinking about as I was playing that game through.

#21 Edited by ll_Exile_ll (1926 posts) -

I just don't get it. There are literally hundreds of other games with more egregious and "damaging" representations of women. Why is there is need to over analyze a game like The Last of Us that doesn't really have these issues.

Obviously, as has been discusses at length over the past several months, there is a problem with the representation of female characters in this industry. However, by seeing sexism everywhere, even in games that don't suffer from it, it's harder to take the conversation seriously.

#22 Edited by tourgen (4542 posts) -

Hahahahah oh Internet

#23 Posted by YI_Orange (1172 posts) -

I'm pretty sure gender roles was the last thing I was thinking about as I was playing that game through.

Seriously. I hate how everything is becoming about this.

Plenty of female characters, from games all over the world, are fine*. And if people are complaining about The Last of Us then I can't even imagine what they want. Someone please enlighten me as to what it will take to please the people who feel the need to jump all over every female character in video games, I am genuinely curious.

*Relatively anyway. There's plenty of shitty male characters and accompanying stereotypes.

#24 Posted by OllyOxenFree (4985 posts) -

You know, I am really just tired of articles trying to poke and prod to find even the SLIGHTEST hint (if there is even any) of sexism. Yes it can be an issue, but there is a part of me that feels that these articles are made just for "click bait". You can see it in the Giant Bomb forums even where if the thread title includes anything that has to do with sexism or feminism that there will be hundreds of comments. It is a controversial issue but it's becoming to be a bit exploitative, no?

#25 Posted by rangers517 (210 posts) -

This "let's comb through every game that's released and analyze every female character to try to find things we can twist into being sexist so we can all be victims" stuff is hilarious. It's basically conspiracy theory level crap. I really hope no writers feel pressured to change the characters and stories they want to make because of this stuff.

#26 Edited by Clonedzero (4196 posts) -

When we start over analyzing everything trying to find "positive gender roles" in every damn game, its gonna be fucking terrible.

#27 Posted by Milkman (17308 posts) -

I thought all the portrayals of women in Last of Us were really effective. I never felt like Joel had to save Ellie because she was a girl but more because she was a child. But Ellie also obviously was able to hold her own for most of the game.

That being said, I don't think there's anything wrong with opposing viewpoints as some people in this thread seem to think.

#28 Edited by Klei (1768 posts) -

I think that if someome is trying to fault Last of Us for it's supposed gender inequality, then that person is a just trying to find problems where there's none. There's nothing sexist about this game. Ellie isn't inferior; she's a kid. Joel treats her as a kid, as a father dealing with a teenage girl, and even if she were a boy, Joel would still give that character the same treatment. Not once have I felt that it disgraced women. When David tries to touch Ellie, it just portrayed a cruel reality. Unfortunately, this kind of behavior happened since the dawn of mankind.

It's not the first time that Carolyn Petit goes on a crusade against the portrayal of women, but this time, I find it odd. Last of Us was never about the male dominance. It's about an old, decaying guy trying to protect a teenager who turns out just as capable and deadly as him.

#29 Posted by Sackmanjones (4761 posts) -

This is fucking ridiculous. It's like they are grasping for straws to argue with

#30 Edited by Scampbell (499 posts) -

I absolutely agree that the portrayal of every female character, like basically all the characters where great. Though it still irks me that every non infected enemy is male. You could argue for that is the way society tends to be segregated, but outbreak takes place in a time where gender equality is almost implicitly accepted to be right. Besides Tess as a character, clearly suggests these thoughts still exists.

So I ask: why is there no female human enemies?

I guess there could be several reasons, and I think likely it has more to do with marketing, than any deliberate sexism by Naughty Dog. Probably the same reason there are no children infected though I fail to understand why, as after all, it does have a PEGI rating of 18.

Maybe there have been no deliberate decisions at all in relation to these things, what do I know.

#31 Posted by Darji (5294 posts) -

Carolyn Petit huh? The one who called Persona 4 anti gay. honestly I stopped reading there. But Last of Us did a really really good job in this regard. Naughtydog even forced that Ellie should be on front of the cover and not on the back. The LAst of US shows what good writing actually can do in this whole debate.

#32 Edited by DonutFever (3536 posts) -

I don't want to sound like I'm against the feminist view on this subject, because I agree that a lot games have an issue with their female characters. But in this case and others like it, it seems pretty clear that this game is being over-analyzed. The games that these articles have been about recently are always about the big games that EVERYONE is talking about, like this and BioShock.

It's not like all the games that get the most attention/praise coincidentally have gender role issues, people may either want to contrarian to the positive response, or maybe in some cases think "Everyone's talking about this (usually well liked) game, maybe I can get clicks if I can create some controversy over it."

EDIT: I probably didn't word that last point right. I don't want to say that the people who write these articles are doing so for business reasons,but I do think that wanting to generate controversy is a big part of it.

#33 Posted by jimmy_p (278 posts) -

I wonder which ethos makes for a better game- let the characters and their gender be decided to best serve the purposes of the story or: mandate everything to a perfect ratio of male/female; equal amounts black/white/hispanic/asian MUH EQUALITY FUCK YEA

#34 Posted by ZeForgotten (10397 posts) -

This is fucking ridiculous. It's like they are grasping for straws to argue with

That's what people have been doing for the past many months.
In the beginning they had something, yeah, but then it just turned into "OH MY GOD! ONE OF THE BYSTANDERS IN THIS GAME THAT YOU SAW FOR 3 SECONDS WAS A LADY! AND SHE WAS NEVER SEEN AGAIN! THEY HATE ALL WOMEN RARRW RAWWR GAARH RAGARHG!"

Keep grasping at straws like that and then it will just become another one of those issues we will say "oh, this again" and just ignore.
Kinda like the boy who cried wolf except these people are not lying, they're just trying to get page hit.... start drama where none exists.

#35 Posted by Chop (1998 posts) -

Kill me

#36 Edited by bkbroiler (1641 posts) -

Sorry to blast off like this, because I'm not going to read the articles. I just can't imagine a game being called sexist because AT ONE POINT you save a young, 14 year old girl. There is nothing sexist about that, considering Joel is 50ish. Is it sexist that parents raise their kids and tell them what to do? Also, Ellie totally saves Joel's life about 2 hours earlier in the game. Jesus what is the world coming to these days. Why is gender politics the discussion of EVERY SINGLE GAME now? Is it just because you get massive pageviews for posting these bullshit stories?

#37 Posted by Tarsier (1078 posts) -

can we move on now

#38 Posted by StarvingGamer (8546 posts) -

Outbreak takes place in a time where gender equality is almost implicitly accepted to be right.

Really? Have you stepped outside recently? Or watched TV? Or used the internet?

#39 Posted by Darji (5294 posts) -

Sorry to blast off like this, because I'm not going to read the articles. I just can't imagine a game being called sexist because AT ONE POINT you save a young, 14 year old girl. There is nothing sexist about that, considering Joel is 50ish. Is it sexist that parents raise their kids and tell them what to do? Also, Ellie totally saves Joel's life about 2 hours earlier in the game. Jesus what is the world coming to these days. Why is gender politics the discussion of EVERY SINGLE GAME now? Is it just because you get massive pageviews for posting these bullshit stories?

That is why I think the PAX Panel is really interesting. Hopefully they will stream it on twitch.

#40 Posted by bkbroiler (1641 posts) -

I absolutely agree that the portrayal of every female character, like basically all the characters where great. Though it still irks me that every non infected enemy is male. You could argue for that is the way society tends to be segregated, but outbreak takes place in a time where gender equality is almost implicitly accepted to be right. Besides Tess as a character, clearly suggests these thoughts still exists.

So I ask: why is there no female human enemies?

I guess there could be several reasons, and I think likely it has more to do with marketing, than any deliberate sexism by Naughty Dog. Probably the same reason there are no children infected though I fail to understand why, as after all, it does have a PEGI rating of 18.

Maybe there have been no deliberate decisions at all in relation to these things, what do I know.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't. If they put women in it Naughty Dog would be attacked because you get to hit women in a video game.

#41 Edited by EpicSteve (6499 posts) -

You can over analyze everything and warp it to appear sexist in your mind. Ellie is one of (if not the best) the most realized and strongest videogame characters I've ever seen.

Online
#42 Edited by spankingaddict (2735 posts) -

Never thought about it as I always do . It's just something to complain about , and wastes everyone's time . Let the devs do what they wanna do . PLEASE ?

#43 Edited by DonutFever (3536 posts) -

@bkbroiler said:

Sorry to blast off like this, because I'm not going to read the articles. I just can't imagine a game being called sexist because AT ONE POINT you save a young, 14 year old girl. There is nothing sexist about that, considering Joel is 50ish. Is it sexist that parents raise their kids and tell them what to do? Also, Ellie totally saves Joel's life about 2 hours earlier in the game. Jesus what is the world coming to these days. Why is gender politics the discussion of EVERY SINGLE GAME now? Is it just because you get massive pageviews for posting these bullshit stories?

Also worth pointing out that she does so by pretty much singlehandedly taking on 5-10 men.

#44 Edited by Colourful_Hippie (4486 posts) -

@zeforgotten said:

@sackmanjones said:

This is fucking ridiculous. It's like they are grasping for straws to argue with

That's what people have been doing for the past many months.

In the beginning they had something, yeah, but then it just turned into "OH MY GOD! ONE OF THE BYSTANDERS IN THIS GAME THAT YOU SAW FOR 3 SECONDS WAS A LADY! AND SHE WAS NEVER SEEN AGAIN! THEY HATE ALL WOMEN RARRW RAWWR GAARH RAGARHG!"

Keep grasping at straws like that and then it will just become another one of those issues we will say "oh, this again" and just ignore.

Kinda like the boy who cried wolf except these people are not lying, they're just trying to get page hit.... start drama where none exists.

My guess is that it just comes down to number of clicks. When this stuff first started sprouting up with legitimate concerns all of that initial content blew up in terms of hits and comments generated. That still continued and judging from the fact that these types of articles continue to pop up, no matter how hard it looks like they are grasping at nothing now, it would be safe to say that those articles continue to get a lot of attention.

Why is gender politics the discussion of EVERY SINGLE GAME now? Is it just because you get massive pageviews for posting these bullshit stories?

Yes.

#45 Edited by Milkman (17308 posts) -

Legitimate questions:

1. How many people in this thread have actually read the post and seen that the Edge article is actually praising The Last of Us's portrayal of gender roles? From the responses, I'm guessing not many.

2. What exactly is the point of leaving a response that essentially says "I don't care"? What does that accomplish? You can certainly disagree with the NYT piece (and I disagree with it strongly) but simply saying "shut up shut up shut up shut up" to BOTH sides of the argument is completely useless. Even if the Times article is misguided in its criticism, that doesn't mean the problem is non-existent in the medium at all.

#46 Posted by ZeForgotten (10397 posts) -

@zeforgotten said:

@sackmanjones said:

This is fucking ridiculous. It's like they are grasping for straws to argue with

That's what people have been doing for the past many months.

In the beginning they had something, yeah, but then it just turned into "OH MY GOD! ONE OF THE BYSTANDERS IN THIS GAME THAT YOU SAW FOR 3 SECONDS WAS A LADY! AND SHE WAS NEVER SEEN AGAIN! THEY HATE ALL WOMEN RARRW RAWWR GAARH RAGARHG!"

Keep grasping at straws like that and then it will just become another one of those issues we will say "oh, this again" and just ignore.

Kinda like the boy who cried wolf except these people are not lying, they're just trying to get page hit.... start drama where none exists.

My guess is that it just comes down to number of clicks. When this stuff first started sprouting up with legitimate concerns all of that initial content blew up in terms of hits and comments generated. That still continued and judging from the fact that these types of articles continue to pop up, no matter how hard it looks like they are grasping at nothing now, it would be safe to say that those articles continue to get a lot of attention.

That's the conclusion I ended up at as well.
At this point it's more about hits/views/clicks.. Because all of those = money in the pocket and big fat bonus.

"Oh my god, this game has a baby in her little stroller, rolling in front of this train and then you, the player, control this man to quickly run up to it and catch the baby before it gets in front of the train. Fucking men, the baby would've been fine without help. But of course a man had to come to the rescue to help the "defenseless" infant" is probably the next big hit of an article.

#47 Posted by DarthOrange (3890 posts) -
#48 Edited by Darji (5294 posts) -

@milkman said:

Legitimate questions:

1. How many people in this thread have actually read the post and seen that the Edge article is actually praising The Last of Us's portrayal of gender roles? From the responses, I'm guessing not many.

2. What exactly is the point of leaving a response that essentially says "I don't care"? What does that accomplish? You can certainly disagree with the NYT pieces (and I disagree with it strongly) but simply saying "shut up shut up shut up shut up" to BOTH sides of the argument is completely useless. Even if the Times article is misguided in its criticism, that doesn't mean the problem is non-existent in the medium at all.

I think people here are just disagreeing with Carolyn Petit and the NYT article. No one said anything against the Edge on I think. Also people are just getting more and more annoyed how this topic and issue is handled right now. This just kills the discussion we should talk about but not like that.

#49 Edited by Colourful_Hippie (4486 posts) -

@darji said:

@milkman said:

Legitimate questions:

1. How many people in this thread have actually read the post and seen that the Edge article is actually praising The Last of Us's portrayal of gender roles? From the responses, I'm guessing not many.

2. What exactly is the point of leaving a response that essentially says "I don't care"? What does that accomplish? You can certainly disagree with the NYT pieces (and I disagree with it strongly) but simply saying "shut up shut up shut up shut up" to BOTH sides of the argument is completely useless. Even if the Times article is misguided in its criticism, that doesn't mean the problem is non-existent in the medium at all.

I think people here are just disagreeing with Carolyn Petit and the NYT article. No one said anything against the Edge on I think.

Pretty much, except I personally have no issue with Carolyn because anyone can have their own opinion.

I don't see anyone harping on Edge's article, it's mostly been about the NYT one which is no surprise considering how many mountains it's making out of mole hills.

And just because someone dismisses that one article it doesn't mean that the actual issue of gender inequality in games is also getting swept under the rug, that logic makes no sense.

#50 Posted by JasonR86 (9723 posts) -