Games are always something under scrutiny for one reason or another, and occasionally there’s a good reason. Recently there has been (and is still happening) is the Gamergate controversy. Ethics of the cause and following social media outlash discarded, it’s supposed to be about gender equality in the gaming industry. With this recent event being in the spotlight the topic of Alex’s research report is remarkably relevant. Gamergate wouldn’t have happened if the women in video games weren’t presented in such a structurally unsound manner, which is a result of the industry and the target market, and Alex does a decent job of explaining the existing problems.
Over the course of the session Alex has been obviously excited to be working on this stuff. The draft that I have seen would not have been has plenty of evidence of research and follows professional discussions within the industry. It’s clear that the topics being discussed were well thought out and decidedly relevant. There’s a lot of common ground between them which is good for ensuring that the report will flow nicely, and while I recognise that keeping the readers interest is secondary to representing the facts, it’s a little dry.
The draft that I was sent, despite having no subtitles (which I’m a fan of but I understand if you don’t want subtitles separating the flow of the work) had three distinct topics.
- establish the current market
- It’s hard to talk about any industry at all without really defining what is going to be discussed. It goes over the average target market and the typical game developers who are the root of the problem in this report. Everything necessary seems to be included and the relationships between all the different interested parties.
- male gaze
- I was initially confused by what exactly this meant but it’s described really well and explained so that everyone can understand. Not only this but why it’s a problem within the industry and why it needs to change. This part is the introduction to the meat of the report but personally I think leading with how females are sexualised would be better. You could lead from the character design into the forced perspective and then why that’s a problem for female gamers, well, gamers in general.
- It’s hard to talk about this without a specific character to work with and Lara Croft was a good choice. That said, Lara has definitely improved from what she used to be, but maybe advanced in the wrong direction. I’m sure this part is almost complete but maybe looking into the new villain for Far Cry 4, who’s meant to be gay would be an interesting topic to see how this sort of thing is changing.
Things that aren’t in the copy of the draft I have but are intended to be in the final cut:
- female gamers
- Definitely something that needs to be discussed as we did in class. It’s very important I think to discuss what constitutes a gamer for those statistics. I wish I had the actual source on this but one company said that more than 60% of gamers were female, but didn’t mention that gamers in this case included people who owned a smartphone and played flappy bird one time. It’s just difficult when different games attract different markets and there are decided standards on what’s meant to happen. This one should be fun to write.
- women in the industry
- This is a huge problem, in every sense of the word and one that won’t be fixed any time soon. I’d be sure to mention that the problem isn’t just with the final game development teams, but in the journalistic side and even at the colleges that teach programming and design. This is a seriously entrenched issue at every step of society, but that leads too widely. Don’t spread too thin.
- specific game examples
- If I was clever I would have written down which examples were going to be discussed as mentioned in the beta presentation but I didn’t. I remember thinking they were good examples though.
The methodology isn’t really discussed in the report which is fine if most of it is secondary research. All the referencing isn’t in my cut of the draft which makes sense, it isn’t a finished product. The only part that concerns me here is that the in class seminar either was replaced (no worries, professionals know more than classmates) or potentially mishandled. Easy to do. As it is, the report is well written and incorporates research from many different people and places.
My only complaint is that there seems to be, in my opinion, some bias. There are definitely problems with the gaming industry and portrayals of women are definitely done poorly but I feel like some of the sources are reading into the designs far too much. The notion of torture porn was brought up and while some people would appreciate it (oh god why) I’m almost certain that was not the intention. Characters rarely yell in pain in video games because of headphone use amongst other things. As far as the whole report goes it’s well written and well researched but if one side is going to be biased try to get another opinion from the opposing side.
But yeah, that’s my two cents.