conmulligan's forum posts

#1 Posted by conmulligan (509 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac said:

Same here. I must say, conmuligan, you do a nice job defending your feelings and opinions regarding this topic. Thanks for keeping it respectful. That goes for just about everyone in this thread.

Cheers! I'm glad something constructive came out of this thread. At the very least, I have a better understanding of where some people think Sarkeesian falls short, even if I don't necessarily agree.

#2 Posted by conmulligan (509 posts) -

@heyguys said:

I think I have a bit more faith in developers than you might but they may be suffering less from a "consciousness" problem than a "perspective" problem in that more female voices within the process at every step could led to less instances of unintended consequences.

I think consciousness and perspective sort of go hand-in-hand, especially when we're talking about an organisation like a development studio. That said, I completely agree that the absolute best way to tackle these problems would be to get more women involved in development. That's probably an aspiration we can all get behind.

P.S. Totally appreciate the dialogue, this thread as a whole has been one of the most constructive I've seen on the internet in terms of different views coming together about a controversial issue.


#3 Edited by conmulligan (509 posts) -

@heyguys said:

@conmulligan: I think you might be running into the problem of being forced to defend an idea you don't necessarily agree with to defend the larger value of the person who proposed the idea as a whole, I say this because you basically admited earlier that you have problems with her segment on Hitman: Absolution. No one, not Anita Sarkeesian, not President Barack Obama, not anyone should be expected to be right all of the time and so, like any human, Sarkeesian will make bad arguments and I think you can easily defend the value of what she's doing and acknowledge specific instances where her arguments don't hold up.

Of course it's entirely possible that I'm being presumptuous and if I am I already apologize, but bending over backwards to defend a single segment doesn't really increase credibility.

I'm not defending anything I don't agree with, or at least that's not my intention. I think Hitman is guilty of using women as background decoration, and of featuring sexually objectified women who lack agency, so I was mostly defending it's inclusion in the video. Where I think Anita tripped up was in the footage she used. It gives the impression that the scenario depicted is a core part of the game, when it's actually just a player-driven possibility, and one that is mechanically discouraged.

So I just want a very clear understanding of what you're proposing with this quote, "I would hope that the end result of more developers being better aware of how the scenarios they depict in their games might affect certain players would result in greater, more inclusive experiences across the board."

For example what does this mean (the bold section)? Should games self-censor in order not to affect people who are already mentally unbalanced? Does this apply to other media as well? If you think a direct link between expression in video games and measurable real world violence/consequences exists then is it reasonable to call for some kind of governmental regulation even if that stops short of censorship? Are the certain players you mention minors or do you think adults should be considered as well? What other societal problems should developers consider when creating games, especially open world ones and possibly censor? Do you think developers gained awareness through that video specifically, why wouldn't they have been aware before? How does this speak to a lack of "inclusiveness"?

I was referring generally to how the content of a game can attract or deter certain people. That might mean how it chooses to portray certain classes of people, like women or minorities, or how it handles sensitive subjects like sexual assault. That doesn't mean games can't or shouldn't tackle these subjects, but they should at least do so with care.

I've mentioned this in this thread a couple of times, but I don't think there is a real-world link between sexual violence in games and sexual violence in real life. Neither does Anita as far as I can tell. I don't know if developers take anything from the Tropes vs Women series, you'd really have to ask them; although plenty have come forward and praises her work so presumably at least some find it valuable.

#4 Edited by conmulligan (509 posts) -

@wolfgame said:

I just find it interesting that gamers, a knowledgeable group of people familiar with games actually justify the way she misrepresents games (lies) in order to achieve her goals. I'm sorry, when it comes to topics such as sexism. Serious topics, I can't accept a position that involves a stance of "She only lied about one game, the rest of it is clean." If you want to defend her that's fine, but a key part of addressing these issues in gaming means being honest. I don't think that is too much to ask for someone who wants to be an authority on the subject.

She didn't lie. I think part of her criticism, specifically when it comes to how the player is supposed to react to NPCs, was wrong, but that doesn't mean she was being deliberately misleading, or that Hitman is completely above reproach.

#5 Posted by conmulligan (509 posts) -

I refused to try Mount & Blade for ages because the graphics were so poor. Then, I gave it a couple of hours, and ended up putting a huge amount of time into it.

#6 Edited by conmulligan (509 posts) -

@rockdalf said:

The problem I have is the specific example being singled out as a textbook example of systemic oppression, when it's cherry picked and poorly presented outside of context. If you were to show someone who knew nothing about that game, they would rightfully assume the game was about being awarded points for killing strippers.

Nobody is singling it out as a textbook example; the only reason we're talking about Hitman specifically is because that's the game everyone who objects to Anita's assertions uses to try and poke holes in her argument. I've already said that Hitman wasn't a particularly great example.

#7 Posted by conmulligan (509 posts) -

@rockdalf said:

That's ridiculous. In the Hitman example in particular, the game itself penalizes you for doing the very thing you say. If a sandbox game exists to allow you to kill anyone, should then not contain women? Or should the women be invulnerable from attack? Should we refuse then to portray any form of harm coming to any minority?

How is it ridiculous? Sure, the game penalises you for harming NPCs, but it doesn't trigger a fail state and is therefore a viable action in the game. Sandbox games can allow women to be harmed, nobody's saying they should be banned or something. But if your game does allow the player to attack helpless, semi-naked women then maybe don't be surprised if some people find that a little distasteful.

#8 Edited by conmulligan (509 posts) -

@spaceinsomniac said:

I do sort of agree with the thought that the violence against cops is over-the-top, but does that mean that if killing hookers was presented as equally over the top, it would be more acceptable? There's a strange thought.

I guess it depends? In general, I think the further you get from reality the less likely you are to play into real-world societal anxieties. That's not why I made the over-the-top comment, though — my main point was that violence against women, and especially sexual violence, is a day-to-day concern for an alarming number of women, and trivialising that in your game comes across as, at best, insensitive.

Also, violence against cops isn't a societal issue? It seems like you're suggesting that if a man kills a hooker, it's because a certain element of society has convinced him that her life is without value. Does that mean if a man kills a police officer, that has nothing to do with a certain element of society convincing him that officer's life is without value? Are you saying certain elements of society do not have issues concerning trust, fear, and hatred when it comes to how they view the police? If so, wouldn't that make it a societal issue?

I really don't think violence against cops is a societal issue, at least not one separate from the general issue of crime. There isn't some significant percentage of people who have a burning desire to harm cops like there are men who have the urge to assault women. It seems to me that the vast majority of violent incidents targeting cops are as a result of varying outside factors, not a singular desire to see an officer dead.

Are you suggesting that the women in that Hitmen scene are ineffectual sex objects? They have no more or less agency when it comes to player interaction than any other civilian in the game, male or female. And their dialogue concerns one of the men working at the club being a jerk, to which the other replies that it's the price you pay to work in their industry, and that any strip club like that is bound to have some jerk working there. So not only do they have agency on display by showing that they choose to work there, but they're given dialog that humanizes them beyond their polygonal form, which allows the player to better sympathize with them, and helps show that they ARE people rather than just sexy dancers.

Yes, I am absolutely saying that the women in the Hitman scene are ineffectual sex objects. Now, it's true that they don't have any less agency the most other NPCs in the game, who are also objectified in the most literal sense of the word in that they are little more than AI routines for the player to interact with. That, in and of itself, is not a bad thing, but it becomes problematic when coupled with the sexualisation of women.

Some throwaway piece of dialogue doesn't give them agency against the player. It might help to contextualise them in the world, but that doesn't mean they're any more effective at thwarting the player's actions.

As for cherry picking, it's one argument that Anita chose herself, and worded herself in a way that completely misrepresents the game that is being talked about. It's also an incredibly brief part of the game, and one of three ways you can accomplish that mission, all of which specifically discourage you from attacking the dancers or any other random citizen. It's ironic that the people criticizing Anita for the way she talked about hitman are being accused of cherry picking her argument. You don't cherry pick specific examples provided by an individual, you cherry pick from thousands of sources. If I find the most man-hating feminist video I can come up with and say "see, this is what feminists are really like!" that is cherry picking, and it's dishonest.

Look, Anita is trying to point out broad trends across a huge number of games. There are going to be some misses. I don't think it means she is deliberately cherry picking when she does. If anything, it points to the strength of her argument that, out of 52 games cited in that particular video, people are only really claiming that one has been unfairly represented.

#9 Posted by conmulligan (509 posts) -

@theht said:

Awareness of potential behaviour to what end? What's your preferred outcome from developers becoming aware of what players can potentially do in their games? Suppose developers were entirely conscious of what players could do in these games when they released them. Would you accept that? If not, what exactly would you prefer they did?

I would hope that the end result of more developers being better aware of how the scenarios they depict in their games might affect certain players would result in greater, more inclusive experiences across the board.

But you're right, she wasn't singling out Hitman specifically. She was using ridiculous footage of it to support her argument that many of the games she discussed (Red Dead Redemption, Fallout 3, Deus Ex: Human Revolution, Grand Theft Auto V, Hitman: Absolution, Sleeping Dogs, etc.) were meticulously designed to illicit sexual arousal connected to the control and punishment of representations of female sexuality.

Throughout the video she's presuming such malicious and perverse intentions behind the development of these games, as well as the effects these games have on the hapless players forced to act upon those intentions.

She did not say those games were "meticulously designed to illicit sexual arousal connected to the control and punishment of representations of female sexuality", nor did she insinuate that the developers behind them had perverse intentions. Here's what she did say:

I should note that this kind of misogynistic behavior isn’t always mandatory; often it’s player-directed, but it is always implicitly encouraged.

That strikes me at totally fair. Sandbox games, like the Hitman series, are explicitly designed to encourage player experimentation. If your game includes a scenario where the player can harm a sexually objectified woman through the course of normal play, then the developer is ultimately responsible for the development decisions that allow for that scenario.

That's precisely where the argument leads conmulligan. Establishing a causal connection between the media we consume and our individual behaviour; how it influences our thoughts and ultimately our actions. Be it violence, prejudiced mentalities, or sexual violence.

I'm a little surprised that you're suggesting there is absolutely no link between the media we consume and individual behaviour because I thought it was pretty much established that it does, however subtly. That doesn't mean that playing a violent game is going to turn you into a killer, it just means that the media we consume can and does affect us in subtle ways, both positive and negative.

Instead we're here mulling over this crap YouTube video. You get some who don't want to look at the particulars of her arguments, because this is a very important issue that shouldn't be bogged down by her ridiculous arguments and deceitful presentation, but also let's raise her up as a spokesperson for the "movement". You get others who just hate the fact that assholes were being assholes to her, so they're on board for whatever. You get the assholes who are just assholes, and yeah, fuck those people. You get the people who vehemently disagree with everything she says and cover their eyes and ears to there even being a problem of representation and depiction.

I'm not defending Anita because I want her as a spokesperson, or because I think she needs protecting from her abusers; hard as it might be to imagine, it's because I agree with a lot of what she has to say. Anyway, this is where I check out, because there's no point in debating this with you if you're unwilling to acknowledge that concern about these issues comes from a genuine place.

#10 Posted by conmulligan (509 posts) -

@cagliostro88 said:

Yeah but that reflects changes in society. Culture is an expression of society. Not the other way around. Look at even something so far related to games as architecture. Like the brutalist movement, and how it was possible in a certain time in history in a certain kind of society. Or something silly as tv. You think a gay couple marrying in a sitcom like in Modern Family would have been possible even 20 years ago?

I think it's symbiotic. Of course pop culture is an expression of society, but it can also be ahead of the curve, and act as a change agent.