I don't agree with criticism leveled against the women of God of War in the GOTY Podcast

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#51 Posted by Rejizzle (1136 posts) -

@simmant said:
@liquidprince said:

Maybe the nuances of language escape you, but telling people that I think they misunderstood something isn't the same as me telling everyone they're wrong. I made a claim, supported with what I thought was reasonable evidence and then left it open for discussion. I didn't name the thread, "You're all idiots and obviously don't understand how God of Wars treatment of women."

The only difference between that title and the actual title that you chose to give this thread is that in the actual title "you're all idiots" is only implied by telling anyone who disagrees with you that they have a fundamental misunderstanding.

Whatever you say bud. I have no intention of arguing with you about what my thread title meant.

Listen, just because other people have a different opinion on a work of art than you do, doesn't mean they have misunderstood the work, let alone have a "Fundamental Misunderstanding" of it. It just comes across as aggressive. Not to mention that exclamation point in the title!

Anyways, why don't you just expand on this in a more researched blog piece? Seems like you have a lot more to say, and some of it might be convincing. Best of luck duder.

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#52 Posted by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

@rejizzle said:
@liquidprince said:
@simmant said:
@liquidprince said:

Maybe the nuances of language escape you, but telling people that I think they misunderstood something isn't the same as me telling everyone they're wrong. I made a claim, supported with what I thought was reasonable evidence and then left it open for discussion. I didn't name the thread, "You're all idiots and obviously don't understand how God of Wars treatment of women."

The only difference between that title and the actual title that you chose to give this thread is that in the actual title "you're all idiots" is only implied by telling anyone who disagrees with you that they have a fundamental misunderstanding.

Whatever you say bud. I have no intention of arguing with you about what my thread title meant.

Listen, just because other people have a different opinion on a work of art than you do, doesn't mean they have misunderstood the work, let alone have a "Fundamental Misunderstanding" of it. It just comes across as aggressive. Not to mention that exclamation point in the title!

Anyways, why don't you just expand on this in a more researched blog piece? Seems like you have a lot more to say, and some of it might be convincing. Best of luck duder.

I'm not really quite so sure why some people are fixated on the thread title as though it's hyper aggressive. Clearly from my point of view, certain people did misunderstand the story. Certainly the person who originally motivated me to start the thread whose comments regarding her stance boiled down to "I don't give a fuck enough to explain my thoughts" in the podcast are among the ones that may not have fully given the story the chance to prove to them how they might be wrong.

Regardless of that though I made this thread to be a discussion. Many people in this thread have given a more nuanced explanation of why they feel the game doesn't treat women right, and while I don't necessarily agree with all of it, I still find it valuable.

Anyways, if the thread title is coming of as so aggressive, I can always edit it, since that wasn't the intention.

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#53 Edited by simmant (89 posts) -

@liquidprince: Glad you admitted that the only reason you started this thread is because you didn't like that Abby dared level a very, very valid criticism against a game you like.

AGAIN, this is a very well established and heavily written about and discussed criticism of this game and it is a real problem, whether you are able to see it or not. Now that you've admitted it, can you please stop being a misogynistic jerk?

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#54 Edited by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

@simmant said:

@liquidprince: Glad you admitted that the only reason you started this thread is because you didn't like that Abby dared level a very, very valid criticism against a game you like.

AGAIN, this is a very well established and heavily written about and discussed criticism of this game and it is a real problem, whether you are able to see it or not. Now that you've admitted it, can you please stop being a misogynistic jerk?

I love how you're trying to act like how everything I write is some how venomous. You can twist and turn my comments as much as you like, but clearly I don't agree with Abby's criticism of how the game treats women. Therefore I made a thread. My thoughts were never hidden. Abby made the comments, I disagreed with her and wanted to express why. Her opinion isn't anymore valid then mine and it has nothing to do with it being Abby who made them. This thread would be here if anyone on the staff had made these comments.

And you know why your argument is weak? Because you're resorting to the tried and true method of calling anyone who doesn't agree with your sentiment a misogynist or whatever other degrading bullshit is relevant per the discussion. I'm not a misogynist because I disagree with Abby. And you trying to dismiss my comments by using that claim is frankly disgusting. If that's all you're gonna bring to this discussion, then you might as well stop, because I won't respond to your toxic nonsense that is gonna derail this thread.

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#55 Edited by simmant (89 posts) -

@liquidprince: And your argument is weak because your argument has always been and will always be "the game said _____ and I think that's fine because I don't understand the discourse around female characters at all and I think women should be quiet and learn their place in games criticism, now just shut up and agree with me."

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#56 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (3675 posts) -

Faye isn't a character, she's a plot device. We know nothing about her other than she lived and died to give the male characters motivation to do a thing. This is called Fridging and it is bad. It is completely irrelevant whether that thing is revenge or not.

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#57 Posted by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

@simmant said:

@liquidprince: And your argument is weak because your argument has always been and will always be "the game said _____ and I think that's fine because I don't understand the discourse around female characters at all and I think women should be quiet and learn their place in games criticism, now just shut up and agree with me."

Right, except that's all nonsense. It's the asinine garbage someone who has nothing of value to say spouts to try devalue an opinion. The only thing you can go on is what the game tells you. I'm not going to bring in my own baggage and lay at the feet of God of War in order to claim that it is or isn't sexist, when the game is clearly trying to give you what to go on. And the highlighted and underlined portion of your quote is disgusting and you should probably stop before your toxic bias leaks out.

Faye isn't a character, she's a plot device. We know nothing about her other than she lived and died to give the male characters motivation to do a thing. This is called Fridging and it is bad. It is completely irrelevant whether that thing is revenge or not.

I think the term is politically motivated and excessively stupid. Would it still be fridging if Kratos was a gay dad who lost his husband and had to travel to spread his ashes to the top of the mountain with his adopted son? Was Uncle Ben fridged when he died and motivated Spider-Man? Will Joel be Fridged if he dies in The Last of Us 2 and becomes a motivating factor for Ellie? Is the term exclusive to women dying, and if so why?

Characters dying, whether male or female, have always been used as motivating factor for a protagonist simply because we're human. Losing a loved one is a universal pain that almost every human being can and has experienced. Is it a quick and easy way to illicit some emotion in the player, reader, watcher, consumer etc... Sure. But I don't think God of War handles Faye so poorly, especially when compared to the original God of War games, where we literally have no information on who Kratos' wife and daughter were. Faye received back story in Lore Markers, through Mimir, and through Kratos and Atreus themselves and the game laid the groundwork for future installments. Could she be more fully fleshed out? Sure. Will she be? One would hope.

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#58 Posted by simmant (89 posts) -

@liquidprince: YES IF HE WAS GAY IT WOULD STILL BE FRIDGING. Gay characters being fridged is as big, if not slightly bigger of an issue within the discourse around this sort of thing and the fact that you brought that up as if it made your point proves that you don't know what you are talking about and you have no real place in this conversation because you are coming from a place of bad faith and you have bad views. If you want to go back to talking about being wrong, you are wrong, you have been wrong since your first post and you will continue to always be wrong because you have no interest at all in understanding why anyone doesn't feel the same way you do.

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#59 Posted by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

@simmant said:

@liquidprince: YES IF HE WAS GAY IT WOULD STILL BE FRIDGING. Gay characters being fridged is as big, if not slightly bigger of an issue within the discourse around this sort of thing and the fact that you brought that up as if it made your point proves that you don't know what you are talking about and you have no real place in this conversation because you are coming from a place of bad faith and you have bad views. If you want to go back to talking about being wrong, you are wrong, you have been wrong since your first post and you will continue to always be wrong because you have no interest at all in understanding why anyone doesn't feel the same way you do.

So it's only fridging if it's anything but straight men? And that isn't stupid? If a straight man dies and is used as a motivating factor, it somehow isn't an issue? Poor writing maybe, but not politically motivated? Uncle Ben dying all good? Joel dying to motivate Ellie not a big deal? Why wasn't this an issue when Ezio's all male siblings and father were killed to motivate him? You don't see the issue there?

The problem with you is you see everything with a giant biased lens and you are constantly trying to say that my opinion is under informed and obviously less valuable. The reality is I don't look at characters as just men and women and they have roles and this should happen if its a man or women and this other thing shouldn't happen blah blah blah. I look at characters as humans, as equals and whether they are male or female, gay or straight or whatever else, they deserve to be written well. If Kratos was from his inception a female and the story started with her husband dying, and she had to take the ashes of her husband up the mountain, we wouldn't be having this discussion. How do I know? Because there are countless pieces of fiction where a man dies as a motivating factor and this criticism is leveled before it.

When George R.R Martin was asked how he writes women so well, he said because he was writing humans. If something is specifically a toxic trope then it's bad regardless of who it's used on. Guess what though? Death is a fundamental part of life that almost any human can relate to. Losing a loved one has always been and will continue to be a trope that is used because it's a trope any author or creator knows is something people can resonate with.

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#60 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (3675 posts) -

Not only would that still be fridging it would also be a Bury Your Gays trope.

So, Joel, Uncle Ben and Faye. You see no difference between these characters? None at all? Tell me, what does Faye look like? What does she sound like? What type of personality did she have? What were her opinions?

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#61 Posted by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

Not only would that still be fridging it would also be a Bury Your Gays trope.

So, Joel, Uncle Ben and Faye. You see no difference between these characters? None at all? Tell me, what does Faye look like? What does she sound like? What type of personality did she have? What were her opinions?

Her name was Faye the Just and she was a warrior giant who many times butted heads with Odin and Thor in order to try and protect the remaining giants from their attempts at exterminating them. After death of the other giants aside from the world serpent, she was the last living giant and the protector of Jotunheim. She needed to protect the gate of Jotunheim so she asked the Norse God of War Tyr for help closing the gate through the Bifrost. She hid the fact that she was a giant from Kratos for currently unknown reasons. She like other giants had the power to shape shift and change her physical size and used this gift to maintain an average mortal size. She was a hunter who was good at tracking and taught her son Atreus how to hunt while Kratos was out doing his own thing. She was also gifted with language and tried to teach Atreus as many different languages as she could which was luckily not too hard as Atreus had inherited her aptitude for language. She was such an impressive warrior that Brok and Sindri, the forge masters that created Mjolnr for Thor created an Axe of equal power for her and when they saw Kratos holding it, were willing to fight him, thinking that he had harmed her and taken the Axe by force. Being a Giant she had the power of foresight and knew that she was going to die before being able to help Atreus grow up to become a respectable person. Knowing that her husband carried a load of baggage himself and that it would be difficult for him to raise a son who was part God without becoming a monster, she orchestrated an adventure for them to both grow.

Now you tell me something about Uncle Ben that doesn't include with great power comes great responsibility.

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#62 Posted by SeventyTwoTransformations (53 posts) -

@liquidprince:

Everything that you know about her is told to you by other characters, your entire conception of her is created from that. She has no voice of her own and that's what makes her not really a character.

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#63 Edited by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

@seventytwotransformations said:

@liquidprince:

Everything that you know about her is told to you by other characters, your entire conception of her is created from that. She has no voice of her own and that's what makes her not really a character.

I didn't realize we were placing arbitrary restrictions on what constitutes a character. I'm just going to leave a quote here from an article I was reading a while ago on this very subject that talks about the power of unseen characters in fiction; characters who only appear by way of other peoples descriptions:

"On the surface the device would appear to offer authors just as great an advantage when applied to everyday folk as to wicked ones. By withholding characters from our scrutiny, their creators theoretically allow them to achieve far greater resonance than if they were delineated on the page: all amorphous potential rather than reductive detail, they loom large in the minds of the other characters, as well as our own."

Seems to me exactly how Faye is handled in God of War.

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#64 Posted by TreeTrunk (617 posts) -

I think there is still a general lack of feminine enemies in games.

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#65 Posted by Shindig (4963 posts) -

I think observing Faye as an actual character is a mistake. She's interesting yes but we are only told about her and that's where her true power lies. She absolutely is not a "character" at least on the same level as the rest of them though.

It's like when Vinny talks about Max growing up and seeing video of him from the gamespot days. That might as well not exist to Max because his point of reference will always be the Vinny in front of him. Think about your parents and try to reconcile any pictures of them from before you were born. You can't. You have your own memories and those stick. We don't have memories of Faye. We can't connect. At best, you get folklore.

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#66 Posted by FrostyRyan (2924 posts) -

@liquidprince: She's technically a character but that doesn't mean she's the same KIND of character as the rest of the cast which we all see actually develop.

Faye is a character who starts off the game dead. She's intentionally given nothing to do because she's more of a device than an actual character. This is just basic literary device talk. It's not hard to see why Faye needs to be discussed on a different level than the other people in the game

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#67 Posted by Efesell (4565 posts) -
@seventytwotransformations said:

@liquidprince:

Everything that you know about her is told to you by other characters, your entire conception of her is created from that. She has no voice of her own and that's what makes her not really a character.

I didn't realize we were placing arbitrary restrictions on what constitutes a character. I'm just going to leave a quote here from an article I was reading a while ago on this very subject that talks about the power of unseen characters in fiction; characters who only appear by way of other peoples descriptions:

"On the surface the device would appear to offer authors just as great an advantage when applied to everyday folk as to wicked ones. By withholding characters from our scrutiny, their creators theoretically allow them to achieve far greater resonance than if they were delineated on the page: all amorphous potential rather than reductive detail, they loom large in the minds of the other characters, as well as our own."

Seems to me exactly how Faye is handled in God of War.

Perhaps 'theoretically' but I wouldn't say in this game. Like real talk your opening post here is the only reason I even remembered that the character had an actual name. Hard to consider then her absence helping her to resonate with me.

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#68 Posted by Sahalarious (796 posts) -

Thread title is a silly thing to nitpick, this is all opinion. I have to agree, and my wife is with me that this game is not problematic in the way it handles women. Not that knowing a female makes me not sexist, but I enjoy seeing her point of view with these things, she is the reason I can't listen to Louis CK anymore because she changed my mind. The valkyries i wont even entertain, obviously thats a huge reach, they're awesome boss encounters and are tough as nails, on top of that their place in mythology is one of honor and great significance. Faye I think would be a fun character to see in a game because the only strong female lead in an action game I can think of lately is Lara Croft and I think those games are dull. The real issue here seems to be Freya, and people thinking that her character accepting Baldurs violence against her in any way advocates for violence against women.

The Freya encounter makes sense to me for a variety of reasons, from parenthood to mythology. As the myth goes, Freya has made Baldur completely invulnerable, and as a result a man without any feeling. He has gone mad from the very process his mother applied to him to keep him safe. As a father of two boys I for one can guarantee you I would NEVER call the cops/report a crime my sons commit, though I hope so much that I'm never put in that position. There is truly nothing more important than the bond between a parent and child, and feeling as if you have failed your child in a major, irreversible way will teach you what despair truly is. We have had some serious roadblocks as parents, sleepless nights wondering if I could have done something differently. Victims of abuse are oftentimes made to feel as if they are to blame, parents will forgive almost any transgression by their own child AND Freya did a terrible thing to her son. Of COURSE that does not justify his violence against his own mother, but to simplify domestic violence in a way that says "if you're strong and a good character you wont tolerate violence" trivializes the violence that women deal with in their lives. Men can be unbelievable cruel, but most of these relationships at least start in a place of love, or due to conception of a child, so it can be easy for someone to end up in a place where they accept things like this. Baldur is a VILLAIN and I can't think of anything more villainous than allowing your mother to blame herself for your own hate, and taking it out on her physically. Kratos fucked dude up and for a good reason, if men allow each other to exert their power over the women in their lives then the cycle continues. My wife works at a DV shelter herself and the women there are not weak or poorly written for having endured abuse.

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#69 Edited by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@liquidprince: The term is politically motivated? Really? That's like saying Abby's criticism of the game is political and not sincere.

And yes, all of those characters would be some degree of fridged in those cases. Unless Joel, say, sacrifices himself, that wouldn't be fridging, though. A lot of the trope has to do with the lack of agency of the character.

In the case of Faye, I think she's not fridged, but she is more plot device than character.

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#70 Posted by stinger061 (480 posts) -

I agree with Vinny in that I don't believe it's something to get too caught up in because that game has like 5 or 6 characters in total. It's not as if the game is packed full of male characters (I don't buy that the enemies are all masculine). Equally, it's not as if the male characters who are there are presented in the most positive light. All have as many if not more flaws than Freya's characterization but seem to be completely overlooked with the focus instead on how Freya ends up.

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#71 Posted by Ares42 (4366 posts) -

(I don't buy that the enemies are all masculine).

For some reason people just ignore that the Revenant enemies in the game are female.

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#72 Edited by Efesell (4565 posts) -

@stinger061: Oh sure I would say Kratos is still and perhaps eternally more of a problem than anyone in this series could ever be.

I mean a few years ago he would have used this kid to solve a one-off puzzle and now he's only passively abusive most of the time. God's workin' on all of us.

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#73 Edited by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

@bladeofcreation: The origins of the term fridged do in fact have to do with it applying specifically to female characters. Then over time the term has expanded to encompass anything other then straight white males. But let's say I bought that those other male characters dying also meant they were being fridged... that makes it significantly worse, because when and if those things happen, the same levels of criticism are not leveled before them. I don't recall a grand discussion about how Ezio's brothers and father were fridged when they were hanged. They are killed, had no agency in the matter and had about as much characterization as Faye if not less.

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#74 Edited by BrunoTheThird (843 posts) -

I didn't quite see where Abby was coming from based on the brief argument she began and understandably didn't finish at the time -- I bet she felt that nasty cloud of potential hate forming and thought fuck it, this isn't the place or time for me to get knee-deep here -- but I came to the conclusion she wasn't labeling the game's subjective writing flaws as 'misogynistic', but lacking compared to other characters, which is a fact in terms of the amount and quality of content. It doesn't mean what is there isn't capable of gripping anybody, but we wanted it to be more tangible.

It'd be quite crass to sling mud at writers you've never met, assuming what you like because you had a negative response to parts of their work. Most people who work in critique-focused fields are wise enough not to think that hate or lack of progressive thinking is to blame every single time they find a female character weak, but yet another case of inferior writing skills from the female perspective, which is just as bad in terms of output, but not necessarily so in terms of input. It could simply stem from a lack of experience with writing deep women, which falls on no moral spectrum, but is still damaging with games that have the reach of first-party Sony titles and these well-known Norse tales. I may have put some of that down to there being fewer sources of interesting female characters in this medium to draw from, but there's plenty in mythology (Hellblade did a vastly better job IMO), so GoW hasn't got as much room to excuse why Faye was so transparent until the later chapters. More female writers would be my first remedy for growth in this aspect, but I haven't actually researched how many of the writers were women, so it's not an educated take. I would guess one, but it may be zero.

What's clear to me now, though, is that people who have general issues with Faye's lack of input in terms of writing, performance, or references by other characters, aren't unaware of the qualities of her character and why they work despite lacking in these vital areas, but think you could achieve all of the same benchmarks that already worked whilst also expanding on them to a level that is as rich and rewarding as other characters were for them. If you think about it, all that does is improve the game, so arguing against that is like opposing someone who wanted more seasoning on their main course, it wouldn't affect yours at all. That's an intelligent request, not an uninformed complaint, but it's easy to be agitated by how that critique can be worded. The mudslingers are just as much of a problem on any side you fall here, and they all have 'em. People who stick to the, "You misunderstood this if you have a problem with this characterization," argument make me cringe just as hard as people who say, "You're a misogynist if you don't see why this characterization is a problem."

With regards to Freya, some of what I said can still apply, but I thought overall she was a powerful and tragic parent in the exact same ways Kratos was. I see no problems with her, personally, and she didn't actually want Baldur to kill her, that's a gross act of reductive reasoning; she wanted him to be happy, and snap him out of his vengeful prison. Many characters in mythology have fucked up psychological wars with their parents, and this was no different. There was plenty of room to expand those ideas more gradually without being faced with that stark and sudden cutscene with the strangling, though, that was weird.

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#75 Posted by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

@brunothethird: Hellblade is a fascinating addition to this discussion. Senua's whole journey which coincidentally also takes place in the realm of Norse mythology is about taking her boyfriends literal skull somewhere into Helheim so that he may be ressurected. I don't recall anyone criticizing the game for fridging the boyfriend who we literally get no information about.

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#76 Edited by Efesell (4565 posts) -

@liquidprince: Perhaps when we swing around and there's a long established unfortunate practice of doing that to add on to.

You've made your points in relatively good faith but that feels like a purposefully ignorant comment.

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#77 Posted by BrunoTheThird (843 posts) -

@liquidprince: I can't tell if you're pointing that out to me as if you thought I didn't know it already... It's precisely why I brought it up, though I think you're reducing it in a similar way other people reduced Faye's usage unfairly, which isn't something I was guilty of in my post.

Anyway, I have no problem with that as a plot device when done well, and I much preferred how it was told in Senua's case as she was deeply unhinged and emotionally on edge every step of the way, and Ninja Theory did a lot of research to make that the most realistic it's ever been depicted. Her mental illness was as much of a reason for her journey, and the voices in her head often question and undermine her lust for revenge, which is more interesting to me.

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#78 Edited by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

@efesell said:

@liquidprince: Perhaps when we swing around and there's a long established unfortunate practice of doing that to add on to.

You've made your points in relatively good faith but that feels like a purposefully ignorant comment.

You cannot solve what you believe to be an issue in how stories are told by only criticizing them when they are applied to women. That is disingenuous and spits in the face of equality. If it is an issue, it should be an issue that we seek to root out when it applies to everyone. This is not a, "we've had to deal with this for years, so it doesn't matter if it happens to you, as long as it doesn't happen to us" kind of situation. You don't empower and write women better, by shitting on men. If it's bad for women it should be as heavily criticized for men. That's mainly what I'm getting at.

I'll give you an example that might come off as a slight tangent but was another recent "sigh" moment for me. I really enjoy the CW's Arrowverse shows. Arrow, Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl all have entertainment value to me who is primarily a DC fan. But out of those four shows, Supergirl has the worst and often most cringe worthy writing. Often times, the way they want to elevate their female characters, Supergirl specifically, is by making all the men incompetent buffoons. Here's a recent clip that aired on TV involving Supergirl and Superman which came after a series of episodes of Superman getting his ass whooped:

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There was about 100 different ways that information could have been conveyed where it didn't devolve into an infomercial that shat on Superman in the process. I mean, he's bloody Superman, and him trusting his cousin with protecting the world could have been a touching moment. But instead we got that tragedy. "The world doesn't need Superman, when it has Supergirl."

Again, I know it's a bit of a tangent, but how it ultimately applies here is that if you think there is an issue in how certain characters are written, female especially, you should be going in and criticizing the issue at the source as it applies to everyone. You don't fix poor writing by only trying to fix it for some people. And for the record, I still maintain that Faye is not poorly written. She can be fleshed out more, but for a character that is unseen, you get a good sense of who she was, how she treated people, what others thought of her, the skills she possessed etc...

@brunothethird said:

@liquidprince: I can't tell if you're pointing that out to me as if you thought I didn't know it already... It's precisely why I brought it up, though I think you're reducing it in a similar way other people reduced Faye's usage unfairly, which isn't something I was guilty of in my post.

Anyway, I have no problem with that as a plot device when done well, and I much preferred how it was told in Senua's case as she was deeply unhinged and emotionally on edge every step of the way, and Ninja Theory did a lot of research to make that the most realistic it's ever been depicted. Her mental illness was as much of a reason for her journey, and the voices in her head often question and undermine her lust for revenge, which is more interesting to me.

I wasn't pointing it out for you specifically. I just thought that it was an interesting parallel. The boyfriend in that game is much more of a MacGuffin then Faye is, and yet I never heard any criticisms based on that. The fact that the other parts of the game are presented in a pretty compelling way where we see the effects of what mental illness have on her don't negate what should have been criticisms on that aspect of the game, if people think that they are valid criticisms in God of War. The primary story in Hellblade is about a young girl learning to overcome and accept her mental illness and learn how to deal with it, and the main plot in God of War is about a man who hates himself not knowing how to raise his son to be better then him. But the difference is that Faye is actually a character, where as the boyfriend really wasn't. I'm not trying to reduce Hellblade or tear it down, rather point out why there might be a slight hypocritical bent when it comes to criticism.

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#79 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@liquidprince: That's the origin, yeah. The usage of terms can evolve over time, though.

Do you really think Abby used that word because of some kind of political agenda in talking about the game?

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#80 Posted by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

@liquidprince: That's the origin, yeah. The usage of terms can evolve over time, though.

Do you really think Abby used that word because of some kind of political agenda in talking about the game?

Not about this game specifically, but Abby does have certain goals when it comes to the games she talks about very often and that is undeniable. Which is admirable, don't get me wrong. She talks about a variety of games that make strides in allowing for accessibility, inclusiveness etc... But in her attempts at talking about those games, she has a tendency to tear down other games. Last years game of the year discussions she completely shat on Nier, saying she didn't want to play a game which forced to look at the characters ass the whole time. Can you look at at 2B's ass? Most assuredly. Does the game force you too? Not even once. Outside of purposefully blowng yourself up to be able to see her ass, it wasn't an issue. She completely tore down what many people considered to be one of the strongest, emotionally resonant and most affecting games of the year with a really shallow complaint.

And as for this discussion, this is game of the year. If you are going to make a serious claim regarding what you think is a serious negative of the game, at least be prepared to defend it. NO, it has nothing to do with a woman having to defend herself or her beliefs, again, this is game of the year. If you plan on bringing up what you see as an issue, you should at least be able to have an informed opinion on the matter. Same goes for any person on staff. Look at how Vinny discusses any game he wants to defend or take off a list. He goes through a series of what he feels are strengths, what it did poorly and how it personally affected him etc... Granted, Abby is a lot newer and still has time to grow, but if you want to talk about the big issues, resorting to, "I don't give a fuck" is very poor and completely destroys any sense of legitimate argumentation. How is anyone else supposed to respond to that? It shuts down the discussion.

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#81 Edited by BrunoTheThird (843 posts) -

The reason it effected me in Hellblade as a plot device a bit more than in GoW was the fact that Senua's decision making is fundamentally flawed, and the player cannot necessarily trust what her instincts tell her. Her goals aren't clearly real to us, and her thoughts are so fractured that there is little room to tell us much about her love other than highly emotional ramblings here and there, but who knows if it's even true or if that skull is really his or if she's even really who she thinks she is. If they had put a lot more effort into Senua's lover from a story perspective, it would have made it much more generic and HBO drama to me, but because it wasn't going for epic or filmic or storybook, but real and disturbing and fucked, it makes sense to me way more that we are so much more in the dark on not just her lover as a character, but other aspects.

I think his absence adds to Senua's and the player's solitary descent, but I feel Faye's absence could have been better intertwined into the overall narrative, especially as GoW's drama is vastly more crucial than Hellblade's. Just me, though.

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#82 Posted by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

The reason it effected me in Hellblade as a plot device a bit more than in GoW was the fact that Senua's decision making is fundamentally flawed, and the player cannot necessarily trust what her instincts tell her. Her goals aren't clearly real to us, and her thoughts are so fractured that there is little room to tell us much about her love other than highly emotional ramblings here and there, but who knows if it's even true or if that skull is really his or if she's even really who she thinks she is. If they had put a lot more effort into Senua's lover from a story perspective, it would have made it much more generic and HBO drama to me, but because it wasn't going for epic or filmic or storybook, but real and disturbing and fucked, it makes sense to me way more that we are so much more in the dark on not just her lover as a character, but other aspects.

I think his absence adds to Senua's and the player's solitary descent, but I feel Faye's absence could have been better intertwined into the overall narrative, especially as GoW's drama is vastly more crucial than Hellblade's. Just me, though.

All perfectly valid. Like I said, I'm not trying to tear down Hellblade, because it was one of my favorite and most intense gaming experiences last year. All I'm saying is there are a lot more parallels in the two games stories that people don't really acknowledge. Kratos goes through out much of the game giving his son bad advice and it culminates in him becoming an asshole. The moment in which his kills Modi is the moment where you can see Kratos break a little. He hates the gods and by extension himself, and realizes that it isn't the fact that his son is a god that is making him bad, it's that he isn't teaching him properly. It's the journey of a man who doesn't know how to raise his kid without his wife's influence because he doesn't trust himself. It's also partly why the speech he gives Athena when getting the blades is as emotional as it is.

Loading Video...

"Pretend to be everything that you are not, teacher, husband... father. But there is one unavoidable truth you cannot change... You will always be... a monster."

"I know... but I am your monster no longer."

That one exchange gives so much insight about the fears that Kratos has and is a deeply moving moment of accepting himself and moving past it for his sons sake. Which... is only possible because of Faye. Kratos is not dealing with mental illness as such, but he is still dealing with a lot of twisted emotions.

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#83 Posted by soulcake (2818 posts) -

A honest question, What's offensive about using tropes, is it considered a stereotype?

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#84 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (3675 posts) -

Did you folk fall asleep and miss like the whole back half of Hellblade or did you just not pay attention to any of the themes and messages?

Also the idea that dismissing something because it's "political" is both ridiculous and idiotic since literally everything is political. How is it possible that someone still exists in 2019 with the idea that "non-political" is a thing. You complaining about something being political is a political stance.

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#85 Posted by mavs (389 posts) -

@soulcake said:

A honest question, What's offensive about using tropes, is it considered a stereotype?

I think it's when the tropes themselves are offensive. In this case, what's bad is that a story element is common enough across fiction to become a trope. It makes it seem like only certain kinds of people are allowed to exist in fiction as people with voices.

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#87 Posted by LiquidPrince (17073 posts) -

Did you folk fall asleep and miss like the whole back half of Hellblade or did you just not pay attention to any of the themes and messages?

Also the idea that dismissing something because it's "political" is both ridiculous and idiotic since literally everything is political. How is it possible that someone still exists in 2019 with the idea that "non-political" is a thing. You complaining about something being political is a political stance.

Uh no, not really. You can view things through an impartial unbiased lens. The idea that everything has to be political is pretty asinine. In fact, criticism should come from an honest and impartial place, not with the intent to push an agenda.

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#88 Posted by loafofgame (170 posts) -

This has been a good read so far. Thanks everyone! :-)

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#89 Posted by BrunoTheThird (843 posts) -

@jonny_anonymous: If I'm one of the folk you're referring to, then no, I didn't 'fall asleep' or 'not pay attention' at all; what a rude way of talking to people. Why would I spoil how Senua's journey ends up in this thread when it has no bearing on the topic here? We were clearly discussing the use of Dillon, her dead lover, as a plot device in a Norse world similar to GoW, and I was discussing how we couldn't trust Senua's decisions because of her psychosis (which is only perceptible as an illness for 80% of the game). Nothing I can see is inaccurate there. All I didn't include were the huge revelations in the latter hours that change what the story is, but why would I do that? It's still about mental illness and revenge in a Norse world, no matter how it's artistically represented, or expressed through mythological concepts.

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#90 Posted by BladeOfCreation (1405 posts) -

@liquidprince: See, that's the part that I don't get. The implication here is that Abby's criticisms of GoW are dishonest.

How is someone supposed to review art in a way that is unbiased? Do you think people who have different views on this whole subject are biased while you, personally, are objective and unbiased? If we're being fair here, let's be fair. Why is Abby the one who's bias gets called out? There were other comments made by other staff members in these deliberations that shine a light on their various political beliefs. Why aren't they being criticized?

Didn't we have this conversation regarding "unbiased" game reviews back in 2010 in regards to FF13?

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#91 Posted by simmant (89 posts) -

You can view things through an impartial unbiased lens.

No, you absolutely 100% can not and it is laughable that you think your view that "everything is good in this game and Abby tried to ruin it for no reason" is apolitical or unbiased, because it sure as hell presents like you hate the fact that a women had a view about women and you had to go and mansplain how she was wrong and "just didn't get it". You are a misogynist, hands down. It is literally not possible to have the view you do about Abby and her opinion and not be. Please just accept that fact and go hang out on kotoku in action. I'm sure all their gamergate lite bullshit will be much more to your liking and you'll never have to worry about those damn women stepping out of their place and having takes about video games ever again.

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#93 Edited by Deathstriker (1177 posts) -

I didn't listen to the GOTY stuff, so I don't what exactly what was said, but I had zero problem with how women were treated in the game. Some of the stuff in here seems silly. Was Faye a real character? No. Is that a problem or sexist? No. Odin, Tyr, and Thor weren't real characters either. For all 4 of them we're just told stories about them. Freya was a good and interesting character. There's only around 5 characters in the whole game.

It's mainly about Kratos and his son, everyone else is just an obstacle or there to provide help (men and women). In today's outrage culture I'm not shocked people are complaining about silly stuff like this. If people were talking about MGS5's Quiet then I'd understand, but GOW didn't do anything wrong.

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#94 Posted by mikewhy (346 posts) -

jesus christ.

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#95 Posted by Jonny_Anonymous (3675 posts) -
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#96 Edited by jadegl (1413 posts) -

I think the important thing to get straight is our terms, because while we can all certainly disagree about whether a trope is used well or not, and good stories can overcome pernicious tropes, a conversation can’t really happen if we don’t know what we’re talking about to begin with.

The term “fridging” is shorthand for the trope “Women in Refrigerators” This is a term that was first coined by comic writer Gail Simone in 1999 in reference to a specific event that happened in Green Lantern #54. You know what is super neat, or at least coincidental? I’ve read this comic! In the comic, the girlfriend of the new Green Lantern is killed by a villain and then stuffed in their refrigerator. The character herself is given little development before being shoved in the icebox, and the event is pretty much just done to spur the new GL into being a hero. That’s all. A pretty young woman is introduced and then summarily crammed in the crisper. Damn, that's cold….

However, this is not the start of this trope, it’s just when the trope got it’s very catchy name. Overall, this is a term to denote when a female character’s suffering, whether that is their abuse, rape, depowerment or even death, is used in a story as a plot device to cause another character, oftentimes their family member, close friend, or lover, into action. This action could be to become a more serious hero, as it was in the issue of Green Lantern, or it could be to send the person on mission for revenge. It could be a lot of things, but the main idea is that a woman (most times this is the case) is killed or harmed and the only reason for it is to make another character have a reason to do something.

That’s Fridging. Easy peasy, lemon squeezey.

There is a lot of discussion here about if it can be applied to men, and I can pass along that their has been discussion from writers and academics that also focus on that aspect of the trope. The specific term, or at least the one that I read in my research, is "Dead Men Defrosting" which actually breaks down that yes, this stuff happens to men in comics and stories, but the men that these things happen to are more able to come back from what has happened. If they are depowered, they can more readily regain those powers later, etc. So, you can kind of look at it by using the comic Powers as an example. In the first arc of Powers, a super heroine is killed - Retro-Girl. That specific character never returns to life after that, though there are flashback stories, etc, where she is shown and another person takes up the mantle. Contrast this with one of the main characters, Christian Walker aka Diamond, who has lost his powers as the comic opens, but later regains them (after a lot of different arcs, it's not immediate). So, while the female character's death is a plot devise to propel the initial story forward, the male character is a multilayered person who is able to regain his lost powers. There are other examples but this is the one that popped into my head on the fly as I was writing. It's not perfect (and I am sure I have someone readying their fingers to type a rebuttal) but it is an example that I think works to explain that terminology.

Now, to what we are talking about in this situation specifically - is this trope present in this game? I would say yes. Does that mean this story is bad for using it? Not in the least. In fact, as I said in the first part of my comment, many fantastic stories use problematic tropes. But, to ignore the use of tropes and downplay their overall effect is an issue. I try to tell the people that I talk with online that it's not one or two instances that cause people to be upset, it's the constant use over many years, so much so that there is much academic study and writing into these tropes, while there is a constant tut-tutting from people who are protective of the media they consume when people like Abby decide to talk about it or introduce these ideas into the discussion.


Art can handle this kind of academic critique. Art doesn't need stringent advocates. Art is what it is and it will outlive many of us, hpefully. Novels, poetry, sculpture, paintings and the like have been inspected, dissected and reassembled in a multitude of ways for hundreds of years. Now the tools of critique have been pointed at games, which most of us would argue are Art with a capital A. In short, art has been looked at with various types of analysis - Queer study, Feminist study, Race, Political, Socio-economic, etc. The ways to interpret art are endless and each person brings their own bias, whether conscious or unconscious, to the piece being studied. How I view a novel like The Shining by Stephen King may be different or skewed in a different way than a 50 year old man. That's okay. And, most importantly, I'm not right and they're not wrong, just as they're not automatically right and I'm not automatically wrong. The idea is to look at things through different lenses, through different viewpoints, and then to try and grasp or gain deeper meaning. To read something like The Yellow Wallpaper, for instance, and discount the position of women during that time as "politics" is neglecting a hugely important piece of the puzzle of critique and overall understanding of the piece as a whole. I would say that a game needs to also be looked at in the same way, not only in the time period it is created (1980s versus today for example), but also who made it and what it is trying to say in it's narrative. Not all of those answers will be readily available, but they're all factors which can lead to greater understanding, not just of the game but of the pop culture landscape it is a part of.

And maybe, in the end, you don't agree that a feminist reading of Harry Potter is valid. Okay, then let's talk about why and pick that apart like the smart, studious people that we are. :D

I know that this is a bit long winded, but I feel passionately about literary analysis and interpretation, and also video games and other pop culture stuff, so being able to use one while talking about the other is kind of like my kryptonite.

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#97 Posted by BrunoTheThird (843 posts) -

@jadegl: If I read what you've so eloquently written in a magazine, I'd cut it out and stick it in a scrap book for future referencing whenever I felt like a rounded opinion on this subject was needed. It always calms my nerves when smart people speak up in zigzagging threads and hit on so many of the salient points without ignoring the manners required for reasonable discourse.

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#98 Edited by burncoat (559 posts) -

@jadegl: This is a great write up on tropes.

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#99 Posted by SethMode (2053 posts) -

@jadegl: Your posts are always exceptional. Thank you.

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#100 Posted by Cure_Optimism (85 posts) -

I didn't see anything wrong with the female characters either. Everything pretty much hit home emotionally for me. Abby's complaints didn't bother me though, and I don't think it's a huge deal. It's not like she spread misinformation, she just interpreted things in a different way. Besides, Vinny provided a counterbalance to that opinion well enough, and the back-and-forth didn't get bogged down in pedantry and only took up a small fraction of the video. I think some of the discussions surrounding this topic are too confrontational, but that's the nature of the internet.

Also, I'm glad to see this thread, with a few exceptions, is relatively cordial and respectful. First thing I thought when I saw the title was "This is gonna get locked in no time", but everything seems fine which is a pleasant surprise.