Sunday, 23 September 2012

The Objectification Double Standard

This is a very long blog. Put aside some time.

The very first blog I wrote on gender issues in video games was about two things; a “Games For Girls” advertising campaign here in the UK at the time and the subject of attractive men and women in video games. This was way back in January of 2008 on Gamespot. First of all, I'd like to point out that I did object to women being objectified in video games if it was particularly blatant, such as Dead Or Alive: Xtreme Beach Volleyball or a Metal Gear Solid 4 trailer from the 2007 Tokyo Game Show that featured Dr Naomi Hunter talking into a video camera and it just happened to bump into her cleavage. You can watch it in the first fifteen seconds of this video, if you're interested.

However, outside of extreme examples, I was reasonably indifferent to the idea of attractive women in videogames. While I know there are certain parties who react strongly to every female character who shows a bit of skin or has a large bust, I don't fit into that group. Here's a paragraph from my old blog on Gamespot:

"The traditional heroine in a videogame is, apparently, any lead female character with large breasts. This stereotype presumably comes from Lara Croft but it's astonishing how few female characters follow this model. In so many developer videos discussing character design and the lead female character, it's often said that they seek to "break the stereotype" of the videogame heroine. Aside from Lara, there are very few noteworthy cases of this. Nariko, despite being scantily-clad, had small breasts. Jennifer Mui from the Mercenaries games, Alyx Vance from Half-Life 2 and Elena Fisher from Uncharted: Drake's Fortune were all fully clothed with a normal, proportionate physique. As are all of the Final Fantasy women up until FFX-2. In fact, Lara Croft herself's breasts were reduced in size for Tomb Raider Legend, although more of her midriff was shown and her bum was "peachier" than ever as a compromise."

Even five years ago, Lara and Nariko were my go-to female examples. Although that last line about Lara is even truer today than it was then; the Tomb Raider reboot seems to have dispensed with Lara's exaggerated physical attributes entirely. Here's a picture that was hosted on GamesRadar:

So while I do object to the more blatant examples of objectification in games, I don't see anything particularly wrong with scantily-dressed female characters or women with an emphasis on the more sexually-appealing parts of their body. Such as Lara, or the majority of female fighting game characters, sans boob jiggle. I could do without that, even if the majority of fighting games don't do it to the same level as Dead Or Alive.

I don't see it as damaging or detrimental to the female characters who are portrayed this way. After all, Lara Croft was awarded "Most Successful Video Game Heroine" by the Guinness Book Of Records. That says more than enough to state that Lara has done well enough to stand on her own two feet as a character, rather than just as an attractive fictional woman. Basically, I think the critics need to get over their dislike of female characters who show more skin than they'd like or have a body type they disagree with or "grunt in a sexual manner when hurt". None of those qualities are anywhere near as detrimental to a female character as the critics think.

We also need to deal with the fact that, yes, there are issues with the appearance of men in video games. I'll say right off the bat that I don't feel anywhere near as strongly about the appearance of men in games as I do about violence against them. That's obviously the more significant issue. I'll also say that I have absolutely no doubt that women are sexually objectified more than men in games. However, that's not to say that the appearance of men doesn't play a role in video games at all and I have taken issue with the appearances of some male characters in games before.

Top row, L-R: Cloud, Reno, Sephiroth, Vincent (Final Fantasy VII), Squall (Final Fantasy VIII), Zidane (Final Fantasy IX), Tidus (Final Fantasy X).
Bottom row, L-R: Vaan, Larsa (Final Fantasy XII), Dante (Devil May Cry 3), Octavianus (Shadow Of Rome), Jutah (Silent Bomber), Sion (The Bouncer), Wander (Shadow Of The Colossus).

I don't want it to seem like I'm picking on the Final Fantasy series in the above image. I was just looking at my games collection when making that picture and the Final Fantasy games were the first ones my eyes went to.

I'm not as irritated by the young male "pretty boy" characters, or "bishonen", in video games as I used to be. The first time I read about size zero models and Barbie dolls creating an "unrealistic standard of beauty" (keep that sentence in mind) for women was when I was a teenager. However, this was also the period when the Final Fantasy series was at its peak and that was my main exposure to the characters above. For me to be irritated by them, they had to have two qualities: handsomeness (obviously) and "Mary Sue" characteristics. For those who don't know what a Mary Sue is, here's an excerpt from TV Tropes to describe it:

"She's exotically beautiful, often having an unusual hair or eye color, and has a similarly cool or exotic name. She's exceptionally talented in an implausibly wide variety of areas, and may possess skills that are rare or nonexistent in the canon setting. She also lacks any realistic, or at least story-relevant, character flaws — either that or her "flaws" are obviously meant to be endearing."

"The canon protagonists are all overwhelmed with admiration for her beauty, wit, courage and other virtues, and are quick to adopt her as one of their True Companions, even characters who are usually antisocial and untrusting; if any character doesn't love her, that character gets an extremely unsympathetic portrayal."

That paragraph describes a female character but a male variant -- the "Marty Stu" -- exists. So appearance alone wasn't enough for me to be irritated by bishonen characters. They also had to display Mary Sue characteristics. Sure enough, some of the characters above don't display those traits (but they'll be just as relevant later on), such as Octavianus and Wander, but there are also several who do. And I apologise to Final Fantasy fans but their main characters were often prime offenders.

Let's start with Squall, since his example is the best, in my opinion. When I was a teenager, I was a lot more shy than I am now and Squall was a very aloof character in FFVIII. I read his dialogue and thought, "OMG I can sooooo relate". Then I grew a bit older, played FFVIII again and realised that Squall was actually a stand-offish jerk. Yet over the course of the game, Squall is made "commander" of Balamb Garden (the headquarters of FFVIII's good guys), in spite of the fact that, as far as I know, he was only made a SeeD (special forces agent) that year. One of the most recent promotions to SeeD, in other words, so he wouldn't be qualified to lead. At another point, Rinoa, the love interest, is lecturing Squall on how the party all wishes he would trust them enough to talk to them more, to the point that she eventually says, "we all love you. There, I said it". But why does the rest of the party love Squall? You could argue that he's done things worth respecting as their leader but love? That was too farfetched for me, especially since he insulted most of them at various points during the game.

I don't want to go into every single one but the other characters have similar examples; Jutah lectures his female commanding officer (and love interest) to prove how battle-hardened he is to the player. Tidus is a cocky douchebag who irritates strangers by climbing all over them and stealing their binoculars but Yuna (the love interest, again) still wants to make him one of her "Guardians" only two days after meeting him and after they've had only a few conversations. Dante, especially in his Devil May Cry 3 incarnation, was the most ridiculous show-off you could ever see in a video game. He gets stabbed by demons to no effect, spouts silly lines and nods his head to awful music on his jukebox ... all at the same time. Be honest, DMC fans; if you met a guy in real life who acted like Dante -- not a demon hunter, just a random guy in your office -- you would think, "what a jackass", right? In fact, I was probably the only person who was happy about his DmC redesign. Not because I thought it was good but because everyone finally hated him as much as me! There are more examples for each character but I get the feeling this blog will be long enough as it is.

Now why is all this important? Well being a bishonen on its own is fine but when it's combined with the traits of a Mary Sue, it becomes a problem. It equates good looks with success because a character like Squall is awarded a huge promotion when there are, presumably, people far more qualified for the job. It equates good looks with popularity because love interests and party members immediately gravitate towards these feminine male characters regardless of negative qualities, such as Tidus being made Yuna's guardian in spite of the fact that he's a boastful ass who she barely knows. For anyone who's not a perfect-looking specimen of humanity and has the same flaws that everyone else does, all these infallible male models can become annoying after a while.

To show that I'm not being unfair towards bishonen characters, I'll give you a few examples that I don't mind because they lack the Mary Sue qualities. Octavianus in the above image is one. His femininity actually plays a role in the gameplay; all but one of his gameplay sections involve stealth and he can adopt disguises to avoid detection. One of the disguises he can use is a maid's uniform, so it'd look very odd if he was a burly hero. He also displays a knack for speaking in a woman's voice during a cutscene. This is a far cry from FFVII's Cloud, who, during his crossdressing adventure, is described as "a tough-looking guy like that". Besides, Shadow Of Rome is a game that doesn't skimp on masculine male characters; the other player character, Agrippa, is a mountain of a man. Likewise, I mentioned in a previous blog that I'm probably one of the few people who liked Final Fantasy XIII and one of the bishonen characters in FFXIII was Hope, a teenage boy. During the game, Hope blames fellow party member Snow for allowing his mother to die and mentions how much of a jerk his father is. He's wrong on both counts. So for once, the teenage idiot in an FF game is treated like a teenage idiot. That's a realistic and praiseworthy portrayal of a teenager who blows things out of proportion and misunderstands the situation, rather than silly stoic/arrogant warriors that teenagers in other FF games are.

There's also an issue with series' that replace their masculine male characters with more feminine ones after several games to appeal to the demographic that is used to bishonen main characters. While the West equates square jaws, broad shoulders and big muscles with masculinity, Japan is the opposite, seeing more feminine characteristics as the height of masculinity instead. So, as an example, Devil May Cry 3 was a prequel, so DMC2's masculine Dante was replaced with a more feminine one. However, Capcom didn't want Devil May Cry 4 to be another prequel, so they aged Dante up and added -- surprise, surprise -- cocky smartarse Nero into the mix too.

Seem familiar?

So with all my criticism of bishonen characters, you'd think I'd love masculine male characters, right? Not quite. Earlier, I wrote, "I'm not as irritated by the young male "pretty boy" characters, or "bishonen", in video games as I used to be." That's because they've largely become a minority in the current generation of consoles, to be replaced by this:

That's an image from IGN called "The devolution of character design". You can see their point.

In recent years, games have become home to the "gritty" and "badass" characters over other types. They'll talk in a gruff voice, they'll probably mix a few curse words into their sentences and, the worst part in my opinion, they'll deliver "joke" lines that aren't actually funny ... but aren't meant to be either. They're meant to add to the character's "badass" persona and nothing else. They'll have a slight edge and they're intended to make the player smile, but in a "OMG that person is so badass" way rather than a "OMG that line was so funny" way. I don't know about everyone else but this character archetype doesn't appeal to me; rather than finding them "badass", I find them boring.

Let's just focus on appearance for the meantime though. Take a look at this bunch:

Clockwise from top left: Chris Redfield (Resident Evil), King (Tekken), Nathan Hale (Resistance), Marcus Fenix (Gears Of War).
These are all examples of various face and body types you're likely to see on male characters in games:
Chris Redfield is your typical modern Hollywood action hero; not the most masculine hero you'll ever see but, hey, he's athletic, he's got stubble and he speaks in a dull voice. He fits the criteria.

King is an odd one. According to Tekkenpedia -- not the most reliable source, I know -- he's 6'6". I used to watch wrestling (don't judge me) and, even though it's not impossible for a wrestler that tall and with a perfectly-sculpted muscular body to perform standing moonsaults and flipover hurricanranas (Frankensteiner), it's rare. Mexican wrestlers are usually shorter and with more lithe physiques than King. Still, this is a game with fighting robots and people who can transform into devils, so maybe we're not meant to take it seriously.

Nathan Hale is a prime example of a modern video game hero. He emphasises the "gritty" nature of the archetype, more than Chris Redfield, and Resistance was a PS3 launch title, meaning he predates many of the IGN characters above. In fact, at the time of Resistance's release, he may have been the most generic example of this type of character.

Marcus Fenix is a square-jawed mass of muscles who, along with his squadmates, slips "F-bombs" into every sentence. I would be fine with this if he was parodying this kind of gritty character in some way, just as Duke Nukem was for eighties action heroes, but he seems to be intended to be a serious example. Sure, the Gears Of War dialogue is less serious than that of most sci-fi games but Fenix is still intended to be an example of the ultimate "badass" character.

I know this blog is long enough already but trust me, I'm building up to a point with all of this. However, before we get to it, there's one more video game hero we need to mention:

Yep. Ryu of Street Fighter fame.

The reason I've singled out Ryu is because, as you can see above, he's run the gamut of appearances of the years, from feminine to masculine. Compare the first image to the second and third ones. The hair and cheeks are rounder, softer. His body is muscular, without question, but it suits his youthful features. The second picture is ... odd, to say the least. His hair is more spiky but curved at the back, his jaw is lower and his cheeks more angular. His body, on the other hand, is frighteningly muscular! I'm not quite sure what the artist was going for but I'm reasonably confident that they didn't want him to look like he was hooked on steroids. Just focus on the face instead. The third picture continues the trend. The third Ryu's jaw is the lowest of all and his hair is spiky all over. His neck is the thickest and his cheeks aren't curved at all.

Now, I'm sure there are plenty of people reading everything I've written here and thinking, "well so what? This doesn't really prove anything about the appearance of men in video games. All you've said so far is that bishonen Mary Sues annoy you. The Ryu pictures were even just different art styles and you used that as proof!" Yes, and that's the point; no matter who the developer or character designer is, they all have one thing in common; they all have a different idea about what masculinity is. If you asked five different character designers to all design their idea of a masculine male hero, they would return to you with five different male characters with very different physical attributes emphasised.
To the critics who would either (A) criticise Lara Croft as a bad female character because of her breast size (or any other female character) or (B) say that male objectification in games doesn't happen, can you honestly look at any of the pictures above and say that certain male physical attributes aren't emphasised over others?  Can you say that Ryu's muscles in the second picture aren't more prominent than the ones in the first because the artist had a different idea of how to emphasise Ryu's masculinity? Or that the first one doesn't have softer features than the first because both artists had different definitions on what a male hero should look like? Can you say that King's muscles make much sense for a man who can perform standing moonsaults, rather than them simply being aesthetically pleasing for the designer? Or Cloud -- "a tough-looking guy like that" -- giving off a different idea of "masculine" than Nathan Hale?

Basically, we've got the whole gamut of face and body types here and a whole mess of "unrealistic standards of beauty", exactly like female characters in video games. You could argue that it doesn't show their sexual characteristics as prominently but their masculine ones? That's all there is to any of these characters, even the ones who, by our Western standards, seem feminine. Half the characters look androgynous and half should be filling the pages of Muscle & Fitness. They're all bombarding us with the message: "This is what a male hero looks like. This is masculinity".

I'd like to point out one final thing that a reader said to me in an e-mail. He said, "just to be clear, I don't believe any game designers are evil because they use ideal or powerful features in characters". I completely agree with that. Game developers are allowed to make the game they want to make. For all the talk of "gamer's entitlement" surrounding something like the complaints about the Mass Effect 3 ending or DLC on release, what is demanding a change in character designs if not gamer's entitlement? Let's just try and deal with it because you know what? I'd hate it if games featured nothing but realistic characters. We're on the road to that already with the IGN examples above and I dread to think where we'll be in years to come if the trend towards realism continues.

As always, leave comments below or contact me at if you have any feedback or suggestions.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Anita Sarkeesian and the Feminist Frequency Fail

Sorry for the long wait since the last blog, everyone. I've been working a few ideas and wasn't entirely sure which one to go with for this blog. One of the reasons I created this blog was in response to several articles about sexism on gaming websites, including one on Gamespot about Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency. For those of you who don't know, Sarkeesian is the woman who used Kickstarter to fund a project analysing misogyny against women in video games, which she claims will be very in-depth and comprehensive.

I'm unconvinced. I have no doubt that Sarkeesian provides in-depth analysis in as much as, say, she wants to prove that women are objectified in games, so she holds up a picture of Catwoman from Arkham City, maybe watches a video of her provocative hip-wiggling walk and then says, "there, that's an example". However, that's not giving the full picture of the game or the character or her role, as we discussed in the previous post. Why do I think that's what Sarkeesian would do? Well a while ago, she made a video all about examples of poor female characters in video games and one of the examples she included was Nariko from Heavenly Sword. Now, I don't begrudge the character's inclusion at all but for Sarkeesian's use of the character gives a very biased view of Heavenly Sword. For her, it's just another example to bolster her case of misogyny but in actual fact, it's nowhere near as one-sided as that. See "The Violence Double Standard" for more.

So writing a blog post about Sarkeesian and Feminist Frequency is what I've settled on. Both being fans of TV Tropes, I think I can provide the flipside to her viewpoint. While she wishes to showcase tropes such as "Distressed Damsel", there's a smorgasboard of tropes about the discrimination against men in the media, from violence and rape double standards to "disappeared dads" and "the sitcom trinity" ("The Unfair Sex", "Women Are Wiser" and "Closer To Earth"). Seriously, if you haven't visited TV Tropes before, you're missing out! It's a wonderful site and the only "mainstream" site that actually acknowledges sexism against men.

Naturally, I'd have to wait for more of Sarkeesian's videos to be released before I can critique her arguments. I'd like to think I wouldn't have to but looking down her list of planned videos, I'm not too hopeful:
  • Damsel in Distress - Video #1
  • The Fighting F#@k Toy - Video #2
  • The Sexy Sidekick - Video #3
  • The Sexy Villainess - Video #4
  • Background Decoration - Video #5
  • Voodoo Priestess/Tribal Sorceress - Video #6
  • Women as Reward - Video #7
  • Mrs. Male Character - Video #8
  • Unattractive Equals Evil - Video #9
  • Man with Boobs - Video #10
  • Positive Female Characters! - Video #11
  • Video #12 - Top 10 Most Common Defenses of Sexism in Games
There are a couple of those videos that stand out to me. Firstly, "Man with Boobs". One of the things I've noticed about Sarkeesian's work is her tendency to sort characteristics into "male" and "female". For example, male qualities are "independent", "decisive" and "violent" (of course) while female qualities include "shy", "weak" and "hysterical". You've probably spotted a flaw here already; by categorising these traits as "masculine" and "feminine", Sarkeesian is enforcing the gender roles that she should be combating. So why isn't she? Well, it makes it easier to prove the argument she's trying to make. Obviously, these traits aren't inherently masculine or feminine -- there are plenty of shy men and violent women, just as an example -- and Sarkeesian assigned sexes to them herself. So by categorising "weak" as a "feminine" trait, Sarkeesian can use all the examples of weak women in video games, television shows and movies to prove a trend of institutionalised misogyny while ignoring the weak male characters.

Give this video by Instig8iveJournalism a watch. The first couple of minutes gives a visual demonstration but watch the whole thing. It's an interesting insight into Sarkeesian's idea of "in-depth" analysis:

Basically, the flipside of the paragraph above and the point, I'm guessing, of the "Man with Boobs" video, is that while men with feminine traits (or negative masculine traits, which don't exist according to Sarkeesian's table of traits) are ignored by Sarkeesian, women with masculine traits will be part of her analysis. However, while female characters who display characteristics such as strength, self-confidence, decisiveness and independence would be praised by other people who enjoy strong female characters, Sarkeesian's view is different; as those are all "masculine" traits, any women who show these traits are actually just adopting male traits and are therefore not strong female characters. So can we expect to see Nariko, Lara Croft and every woman from a fighting game in Sarkeesian's "Man with Boobs" video? Time will tell.

This is the second part of Instig8iveJournalism's piece on Anita Sarkeesian. I don't have much to say about this other than I find her methods for earning more money to be highly disturbing:

To sum up that video, Anita was moderating the comments on the first video posted on this blog but she let some of the more misogynist ones through. Why? To stir the pot, use them as proof of a misogynistic trend in video games and then claim the sympathy card in a high-and-mighty response on her blog. It paid off, to the tune of twenty-five times the amount of money she asked for on her Kickstarter. I'm not saying it was all due to the comments but I know the feeling of disagreeing so strongly with someone that you want to do something just to rub their faces in their failure. The trolls on IMDB were the reason I bought Scott Pilgrim Vs The World on DVD ...

I'd like to point out that I don't support misogynistic comments but you know what? Sarkeesian was moderating every comment on her video. She could've done something about them if she actually felt they were morally wrong and not just a method of earning more cash.

Back to her planned videos: it's the final one in the series that irritates me most. "Top 10 Most Common Defenses of Sexism in Games". I'm a member of a comic book forum, amongst others, and I rarely visit there any more because every other thread is about the portrayal of women in comics and more diversity on superhero teams. The issue, however, is a certain image that was going around a few years ago that you can see here, if you can stand the straw feminism at work:

They've added links to why each square is "considered ridiculous or insulting" since I last saw it but if anything, that just makes it even more ridiculous. The typical attempts to justify and trivialise objectification of men while claiming that it oppresses women. Read this excerpt, as an example:

"If your reaction is “But I like it and therefore it cannot possibly be sexist!” then you need to check out the concepts of “male privilege” and “patriarchy”. In your own time, please, but some good places to start are listed at the end of this column."

So does that mean that the women writing that blog who accept bumbling dads, expendable males and violence against men in the media without complaint are admitting to female privilege and a matriarchy at work? I have to wonder. It also implicitly states "anything I denounce as sexist IS sexist and you can't possibly say otherwise". Because you have privilege.

Anyway, that's going off-topic and I don't have time to counter every arrogant "nope, you're wrong!" point they make. The point is that presumably, the writers of that blog added the explanations because they were running into the exact same argument that I was making when I first saw that image; pre-empting an argument with the points made by the opposition is NOT a valid substitution for a counter-argument. What would happen whenever I ran into that image was there'd be a debate somewhere on the forum about the objectification of women in comic books. Someone would point out that men are drawn unrealistically too. Someone would show that image. The first person would then say, "uhh ... but men are drawn unrealistically too". The second person would show that image again. Basically, they figured it acted as some ultimate trump card to any argument while, in actual fact, it just showed the second person was incapable of debating properly. Either that or they believed that because something was written on a mock-up bingo card, it was somehow a fact and that meant it wasn't up for discussion.

What I'm concerned about is that Sarkeesian's "Top 10 Most Common Defenses of Sexism in Games" will be exactly the same thing. Not points to be debated but silly subjective statements that she believes prove her correct. In fact, I've seen articles with titles like that before, notably on Cracked. If that was anything to go by, Sarkeesian will miss the point and fail to realise that people in blogs, her comments section and wherever else aren't defending sexism in games, they're criticising her for failing to accurately represent sexism in games, i.e. against men as well as women. After all, it's much easier to claim that these people are defending misogyny rather than admit that misandry might exist in games too.

I'd like to leave you with another short article on Anita Sarkeesian from AVoiceForMen. I'm not a close follower of AVfM but I have to thank them for A) introducing me to the two Instig8iveJournalism videos used in this blog post and B) this fantastic article. It actually affected me quite deeply and I've never been so ashamed to be a gamer as when I finished that article. Thank you to Dean Esmay for writing it and make sure to watch the two videos by women embedded in that article. They're both very good, one giving a far more succinct criticism of Sarkeesian than I have and the other criticising the attitude towards women in video games by other female gamers/bloggers.

As always, if you have any suggestions for the subjects of future blog posts, leave it in the comments or send me a message at

Thursday, 13 September 2012

The Sexism Of Batman: Arkham City

A few years ago, I came across a site that reviewed movies from a men's rights perspective. It was called "Men's Movie Guide" and, unfortunately, it isn't there anymore. Their reviews made for pretty interesting reading, particularly their review of Knocked Up by a female member of the site. One of the interesting things about the site was that it gave two ratings; one was a rating of the overall quality and the other was for how "male-friendly" the movie was. For example, Mrs Doubtfire received a low quality rating but was considered very male-friendly because of Robin Williams' impassioned rant about how much his kids meant to him at the end of the film.

However, the weird thing is that I don't think the same rating could work for video games. I've seen other sites try it, specifically a Christian site about how faithfully games follow Christian values, but I'm not convinced. Gaming is unique in that, even if a game features content that deeply offends you, it can still be a great game that you enjoy. If a movie contains scenes you find uncomfortable to watch, it might be enough to make you dislike that movie and not want to watch it again, but it doesn't really matter if you're morally offended by a game as long as the gameplay is good.

All this is just explaining why I don't want this to be a blog for reviewing games. There are a few games I'll be devoting entire posts to though and, even though they're all sexist against guys, they're also all worth at least one play. Yes, that includes Heavenly Sword in the previous blog post.

Today, it's Batman: Arkham City.

You might notice on the right side of my blog, I have a link to TV Tropes. Well, shortly after Arkham City was released, there was a huge discussion over there about how sexist it was. If you want, you can head over there and save yourself the bother of reading the rest of this blog. Basically, it boiled down to two groups; the people who thought it was sexist against women and the people who thought it was sexist against men. And most of it revolved around Catwoman.

I'm going to skip everything that isn't about Catwoman because, to be honest, I've already tried and I don't think I was getting my point across well enough. I enjoy explaining things to people who haven't played the games but writing about the League Of Shadows felt like a bit of a hassle. So instead, this blog will solely be about the criticism of Catwoman's character.

The argument from people who believed Arkham City was misogynistic was twofold; Catwoman's outfits (obviously) and comments from the male inmates

Let's start with the stuff that wasn't; basically, for those of you who've never played the game, Arkham City is a walled-off portion of Gotham City that was built to house all of Gotham's criminals. The argument from people who believed Arkham City was misogynistic was twofold; Catwoman's outfits (obviously) and comments from the inmates about how they'd like to "get their hands on Catwoman", implying they wished to rape her. That one's easiest to get out the way first because it's exactly the same as the point about Tomb Raider from two posts ago; having people mention rape isn't misogynistic at all. Nobody is raped in Arkham City but, apparently, there are rapists. All male, naturally. So what about a game featuring awful male characters is sexist against women?

Now onto Catwoman's outfit. It's the typical objectification argument you hear whenever a female character is dressed provocatively. "Her butt wiggles too much". "She shows too much cleavage". "She's a hyper-sexualised object who only appeals to men".

Let me take a moment to point out a few things here. In Arkham City, you can unlock audio files to listen to that gives a bit of backstory for each character. They all revolve around the character, usually a villain, talking to Hugo Strange, the man who runs Arkham City. Catwoman's audio tapes feature two very specific quotes that highlight her attitudes towards men:

Strange: "I believe you would have escaped if greed had not got the better of you. [Batman] was actually in the process of rescuing you, was he not?"
Catwoman: "I didn't need his help."
Strange: "Or any man's, it appears."
Catwoman: "C'mon, you're going somewhere with this? Spit it out."
Strange: "I've been studying you."
Catwoman: "So I see. My eyes are up here, by the way."

Strange: "Your father. Did you ever meet him?"
Catwoman: "Never knew the son of a bitch."

The second quote is pretty straightforward. A "disappeared dad", just another of the plethora of bad men in Arkham City. The first is more interesting because it's about Catwoman intentionally dressing provocatively. A later exchange between the two outright states that Catwoman doesn't trust men and that Batwoman must be spoken for because how else could he "resist this":

So Catwoman uses her sexuality to her advantage. The critics will say this doesn't matter but it's part of her character, at least in this incarnation. It's also worth mentioning that Catwoman plays a pivotal role in the story. Batman saves her in the very first mission of the game, so Catwoman returns the favour later on. Saving the main character is enough to characterise her as more than just an "object" and the fact that you can play as her and defeat swathes of (male) enemies is enough to show how capable she really is.

So let's recap; she calls her father a son of a bitch. She doesn't trust men. She beats up men. And she dresses provocatively, which means one of two things; either she thinks all men are perverts or the developers of the game think all men are perverts. And either way? She's dressing that way to appeal to the men she holds in so little regard. In other words, if you're a male gamer, you're being called a pervert and the men Catwoman is beating up represents you.

Need I remind you that Catwoman is one of the good guys? We're meant to cheer for her and applaud her for attacking guys and breaking their bones (something Batman can't do with female enemies). A male gamer feeling uncomfortable about playing as a sexist apparently didn't cross the mind of the developers. Who is this character meant to appeal to? To men? Somehow, I don't think that's the case and, if it is, it shows an incredibly lack of foresight. To women? That seems the more likely option, in my opinion. It's far better than everything about the character basically saying "guys suck".

There are a couple of other sexist issues with Arkham City that I'll sum up quickly:
  • There are barely any bad women in the game. Catwoman is an anti-hero. So is Talia Al-Ghul and her all-female army of assassins. Poison Ivy keeps to herself. Harley Quinn is the closest thing to "evil" a woman gets in the game and she plays the comic relief role.
  • Even though we're told over the public address system that Arkham City is a unisex facility, female supervillains are the only criminals we see. And, as I said above, they're not exactly evil. So the people you do see and beat up? The thieves, murderers and rapists? All male.
That's Arkham City in a nutshell. A great game, ruined by the Catwoman downloadable content. Even if it wasn't sexist against guys, the fact that Catwoman is an awful character to play as and her missions break up the game's narrative would be enough to put me off downloading it. But if you don't download it? You've got an incomplete game!

If you have an suggestions for blogs, leave them in the comments below or contact me at

Monday, 10 September 2012

The Violence Double Standard

I don't know if other men's rights activists had one specific moment where they became an MRA but I can remember one moment that significantly affected me more than any others I'd experienced. About six or seven years ago, I regularly watched a daytime television show here in the UK. Their content was always very varied and they usually had pieces about fashion, cookery, celebrity and soap "gossip", men's and women's health and the occasional celebrity interview. I'm guessing there are similar shows in the US. Obviously, it was aimed at a female audience but there were enough interesting celebrity interviews on there that I regularly watched too.

Occasionally, this show liked to have segments about important issues. Homelessness, drug addiction and suicide, for example. It was only natural that they covered domestic violence a few times. Now before anybody gets worried that a show aimed at women dismissed men's issues, they actually handled them very well. They pointed out the statistic of men being four times more likely to commit suicide than women and for the domestic violence segment, even though the presenters didn't focus on male victims, they did mention them. They mentioned the stigma of men coming forward and then made mention of the following statistic: even though there were five-hundred domestic violence shelters for women in the UK, men had a grand total of ... twelve. That was enough to encourage me to develop an interest in men's rights and, after some research online, a second statistic cemented it. I don't remember the figure but while UK domestic violence statistics showed that men were slightly less likely to be victims of DV than women, young men in my age group -- I believe the group was 16-20 year olds -- were slightly more likely to be victims than their female counterparts. So that's when I started looking at violence against men in a different light.

However, aside from the Hitman trailer in my previous post, I can't recall any gender issues in video games about the issue of violence. If there ever is a debate about violence in video games, gender doesn't factor into it; it's always the violence itself, such as Manhunt being controversial because of the executions and Mortal Kombat back when it was first released. So why is gender never an issue? The only answer I can come up with is that violence against women in video games is so rare that nobody has ever needed to speak up on it. That's why we hear far more about objectification of women instead. And violence against men? Well ... who cares? They're just men. I have a few examples that aren't filled with blood and gore at all but they are representative of a double standard of violence in video games, the reason being that if any of these examples featured women attacking men, there'd be a backlash. Some of these speak for themselves, others require explanations:

Final Fantasy XIII

I know people are going to hate me for this ... but I actually quite liked Final Fantasy XIII. I really did. Sure, compared to other Final Fantasies, it doesn't even measure up. The gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. I think the story held together for longer than other FFs did and it remains the only Final Fantasy game where I've actually liked the characters. As far as I'm concerned, Sazh is the best character in any FF game. I couldn't have asked for a finer example of a male character in a game and all credit has to go to the writers for portraying him as a father who wants nothing but his son to be safe.

However, while there were a few FFXIII characters I liked, main character Lightning was not one of them. According to Square-Enix, she was conceived as "a female version of Cloud", from Final Fantasy VII. I must've missed the version of Final Fantasy VII where Cloud clocks Tifa in the jaw angrily. Twice.

Uncharted: Drake's Fortune

Here's a quick rundown of what you're seeing above, for anyone who's never played Uncharted: basically, Elena Fisher is a filmmaker creating a documentary on Nathan Drake. Very early in the game, Nate and his partner ditch her while she's making a phone call. When they finally reunite, Elena takes Nate by surprise and punches him in the face for being a jerk and leaving her.

Sounds fair enough, right? Well, as is always the best thing to do in these situations, reverse the sexes. Can you ever recall a male character punching a female hero and still being allowed to remain as one of the good guys, no repercussions? Let's say Lara Croft ditched a "non-action guy" and when they finally came across each other again, he punched her. What would happen? I doubt he would remain as one of the good guys. That might be enough to turn him into the villain of the piece and have him search for the treasure on his own or, more probably, turn him into the cowardly weasel, the second-in-command to the real villain, hiding behind a bigger, scarier adversary so Lara couldn't get at him.

I came to this conclusion because there have been plenty of soap operas, drama series' and so forth where, no matter what else happens in a certain scene, everything grinds to a halt if there's violence by a man against a woman. She slaps him? Whatever, no problem. The slap is part of every woman's arsenal in a television show. He slaps her? Monster. The attitude of "he can take it, he's a man" waters down how significant an issue domestic violence against men is. Naturally, the reverse would wander into "don't hit a girl" territory, meaning any guy who did hit a girl in a video game would have to be portrayed as a monster or fear a backlash. The only real exception to this rule that comes to mind -- apart from fighting games, for obvious reasons, and free-roaming sandbox games because they would look odd without any women in the world -- is the Mass Effect series. I'm not quite sure why it gets a pass. Because Shepard can be a member of either sex? Because the player can choose not to punch the female reporter? The large female fanbase for Mass Effect?

Heavenly Sword

I have a lot I could write about Heavenly Sword. I'm almost certain I'll devote an entire blog post to it at some point, once I've played through it again. However, this is just about the violence against men.

Just watch this video. Start from around the 4:40 mark:

For anyone who's not quite sure what they're seeing there, each of the bosses in the game is defeated with a quick-time event. This is the final boss, King Bohan, being defeated by the main character, Nariko. And this quick-time event features, amongst other attacks, Nariko elbowing Bohan in the genitals from a great height, followed by stabbing him in the thighs twice. Up until recently, I actually thought Nariko stabbed him in the genitals twice, thanks to how close the camera is to Bohan. We don't get a clear look until the camera angle changes.

What's wrong with this should be obvious. Even if you don't agree with me about a male character punching a female one, similar to the Uncharted example above, how do you think a game would be perceived if a male character attacked a woman's genitalia and then appeared to stab her in the same region? I get the eerie feeling that someone will mention the crotch-punches in Saints Row 3 but come on, if it was a game where crotch attacks were meant to be taken seriously.

While that was the main groin attack in Heavenly Sword that stuck out in my mind, I came across this trailer while I was browsing, which I then uploaded to my YouTube channel:


So let's make something very clear; the developers of Heavenly Sword, Ninja Theory, didn't just feature genital mutilation in their game. They actually used it to advertise their game. Remind me; why did anyone ever say Heavenly Sword was sexist against women again? Oh, right, Nariko's clothes. Silly me.

Metal Gear Solid 4

In Metal Gear Solid 4, Meryl Silverburgh made her return to the series after being gone since the first game. She was different. Older. Tougher. She also had some cute lines like, "Men. Selfish, egotistical pigs". The reason she had this attitude? She found out that the man she thought was her uncle was actually her father, so she was pissed off at him. In spite of the fact that this same father ordered the main character to save his daughter's life, used his connections to get her a job in the military in the Middle East and help her become the leader of her own unit, which is where we're reintroduced to her in Metal Gear Solid 4. Not bad for a "womanizing piece of shit", as Meryl refers to him at one point. She goes so far as to blame him for being with a younger woman even though she was lusting after an older man in the first game.

So while Meryl has clearly grown into a misandrist in the time between Metal Gear Solid 1 and 4, it doesn't stop with verbal insults. There is one member of her team called Johnny Sasaki, who MGS fans will know as the series' comic relief character, the humour coming from him being stricken with diarrhoea at inopportune moments. In MGS4, his role is expanded greatly, so he's one of the members of Meryl's squad. He's so useless in this role that Meryl frequently punches him and the audience is supposed to laugh.

Now, never mind the fact that a man being punched by a woman is deplorable enough on its own. Being punched by a sexist woman without any repercussions is ridiculous. Honestly, remember that "selfish, egotistical pigs" line from above? Snake, a male character, only reacts to it with a grunt. We don't get a "screw you, Meryl. If it wasn't for men, you'd be dead by now," from Snake. Just a grunt! It's almost as if we're meant to sympathise or agree with Meryl; she's one of the good guys and nobody debates her sexist points, so what other conclusion are we supposed to come to? I've even been informed that Meryl's abuse of Johnny would be grounds for a court martial. Don't worry though, folks, it has a happy ending:

For those of you who've never played Metal Gear Solid 4, trust me, I was as stunned as you. Yes, the abusive woman and her victim get married in the ending sequence.

Amazingly enough, MGS4 isn't even the first time Meryl is abusive to Johnny. Here's an image from MGS1:

That's Johnny, immediately after being beaten unconscious by Meryl and having his uniform stolen. Now at the time, they were adversaries, so you could at least justify her treatment of him in this case. However, if MGS4 is to be believed, this is the moment that Johnny realised he was in love with Meryl.

So let's do what we always do in these situations and flip the sexes. This is how things are chronologically:
  • Man beats female guard into unconsciousness, steals her clothes and leaves her naked.
  • The female guard joins that man's squad later in life, where she's subjected to regular beatings for being inept and the man has an incredibly low opinion of women.
  • The female guard unmasks and the man stops beating her because she's pretty.
  • The female guard reveals she's loved how he's abused her all these years.
  • The two of them get married and live happily ever after.
This is a lot like the Uncharted example above but with all the dials turned up to eleven. Rather than just one punch, it's regular attacks. Rather than taking it out on the male character for being a jerk, the woman does it because the guy keeps making mistakes. And, of course, Elena wasn't a huge sexist, as Meryl was. Yet we're still supposed to see Meryl as a hero, as always in these cases.

There are many more games that feature a double standard when it comes to violence. Mirror's Edge and Faith's groin-kick. In addition to other sexist occurrences, Batman: Arkham City featured male enemies having their bones broken (by a woman, in some instances) while the female ones suffered knockout punches and kicks. How many games have you played that feature both men and women as members of the heroes' team/army but an all-male opposing force? Not main characters, just your standard NPCs and enemies. Final Fantasy VIII did this with Balamb Garden's heroic students of both sexes battling the all-male Galbadian army. In Half-Life 2, the villainous Civil Protection probably weren't all-male, if the disturbing experiments in the final chapter are anything to go by. However, they looked male and they sounded male. So to the casual observer, the final few chapters featured a mix of male and female freedom fighters battling an all-male totalitarian regime. Hell, if you don't count games with actual good armies and start including named characters, that list shoots up to include Uncharted 1 and 2, Metal Gear Solid 1-3 (where all the female villains turned good before their deaths or were just pretending to be evil all along) and even the Crash Bandicoot games technically qualify.

It's worth bearing in mind, too, that these are only the games I've played. I'm actually morbidly curious about games starring female characters such as Bayonetta, Lollipop Chainsaw and Wet. I've noticed a video on YouTube showing all the cutscenes from Lollipop Chainsaw so that's on my To Do list. If anybody has played those three and would like to educate me about them, I'd be happy to listen.

From the sounds of things, it doesn't seem as if violence against men is something that concerns developers in the slightest. Here's a Gamespot article about God Of War: Ascension. For anyone who didn't read the article, it's basically David Hewitt, the game design manager of Sony Santa Monica, briefly discussing about how the development team has "pulled back" from featuring violence against women in the God Of War series. So basically, Kratos, the murderous, amoral, psychotic, sadistic star of the God Of War series who has had no problems slaughtering people by the thousands throughout the series ... is now going to restrict his violence to people with penises?

This story, however, does have a happy ending. Looking at the comments below really reaffirms your faith in the gaming community. Take a look at a few of the comments and maybe we can end this blog on a happy note:

"As a Female Gamer i'm quiet disgusted with the amount of idiotic female "interest grops" out there putting their selfishness first before the freedom of expression in video-games."

"Oh right, because ripping a male apart is humane, but ripping a female apart is pure EVIL. I see the equality. So, ripping apart transgenders is what? Frowned upon?"

"am just waiting for Wonder Woman to come out and am complain about violence against men if lays even 1 finger on any man"

"Might it be more sexist to take such things out?  After all, in this modern age women deserve equal rights.  They deserve equal opportunity, equal pay, and, of course, an equal opportunity to get their heads pulled off by Kratos."

"What about violence against men?"

"Well thats just straight up BS. How many men have been brutally murdered by Kratos? Not to mention other games out there. A few female characters get killed and its some big freaking deal? Seems more like a pleasant change."

"Aren't men and women equal?"

"Message received.  It's morally ok to kill men.  Thanks game devs."

That'll do for now but I'd like to leave you with one final comment from a Gamespot member called MysteryJ0ker that perfectly sums up both Gamespot's recent slew of biased articles on sexism and my fears for the gaming industry as a whole.

"I like how the gaming industry is now fully turning into a political statement"

As always, if there are any topics you'd like me to write about or you have questions or feedback, leave a comment below or contact me at All comments are welcome!

Friday, 7 September 2012

The Tomb Raider & Hitman: Absolution Issues

For my first "real" blog, I'd intended to start with two of the hot button issues of 2012; the Tomb Raider reboot's "rape" controversy and the Hitman trailer featuring Agent 47 fending off an assassination attempt by "The Saints", a group of women dressed in skimpy latex nun costumes.

However, it was only when I was explaining the entire situation about Tomb Raider for the six people who had been living under a rock back in June that I realised something: I didn't think I had anything to add. I looked over a few articles from Wikipedia's citations, followed by articles linked to by those articles and, long story short, I thought they were far more comprehensive than I would've been. A few things stood out for me though; for one, I didn't agree with their assessment. For example, many people took Lara's fearfulness during the E3 trailer to mean she was suddenly "weak" and this, combined with the "rape", was proof of misogyny in Tomb Raider, perhaps even gaming as a whole; an otherwise-good article on Destructoid referred to a "sexist status quo" in gaming culture.

Basically, I wasn't seeing what everybody else was seeing in the E3 trailer. I've occasionally responded with frustration at kneejerk reactions from bloggers and commenters and I'm certain I did back in June, when the rape controversy was the talking point of every gaming site. For example, it didn't matter that Crystal Dynamics stated, "sexual assault of any kind is categorically not a theme that we cover in this game", I can still recall at least one article that showed a picture of Lara being set upon by one of the enemies in the game and saying, "uhh, yeah, that's sexual assault!" There was also an open letter to two people who had dared to crack a joke about the non-rape of a fictional character in a comments section, which further continued to make a mountain out of a molehill.

Now, it's understandable that people reacted this way. Not just because rape is such a sensitive subject but also because we knew -- and still know -- so little about Tomb Raider. However, what was so annoying closer to the time was that while plenty of people chose to believe Crystal Dynamics when they stated, "sexual assault is not a theme we cover in this game", plenty of others chose to make up their own story and say, "it looks like a quick-time event", as in, "press X to avoid rape".

The moment in question starts at around the 2:20 mark in the above video, if you want to judge for yourself.

So like I say, it's not so much that I didn't care as much as I didn't see what everyone else was seeing or I figured they were being hypocritical: did Sarah Connor's weakness in Terminator stop her from being strong in Terminator 2? What about Ripley in Alien? It's not even specific to women; did Peter Parker have super-strength even while being beaten up by bullies? It sounds like certain audiences wouldn't be satisfied unless Lara was clutching a pair of handguns at birth.

So how does Hitman: Absolution fit in? Well if you're a gamer, there's a good chance you've seen this picture while visiting your favourite gaming site over the last couple of months, albeit a bigger version:

Basically, to sum up the trailer they appear in, they blow up the motel that Agent 47 is staying in but 47 survives and kills them. There's some blood and, of course, people complained. The controversy boiled down to this; the objectification of women, the violence against women and the two together encouraging sexual violence.

The reason I wanted to draw the parallel between Hitman and Tomb Raider -- and I realise the word "wanted" is looking increasingly pointless -- is because the reaction to the two trailers was exactly the same but the roles were reversed in each one. The Hitman trailer ends with Agent 47 killing his assailants and they are considered victims by the game's critics. The Tomb Raider trailer ends with Lara killing her assailant, yet she is still considered a victim by her game's critics.

Why is this? Presumably because Lara was "weak" and fearful, right? Okay but the Saints in the Hitman trailer weren't fearful at all. So why are they considered victims? Why is violence against them so bad?

The answer, unfortunately, is the same answer that we always roll our eyes at in this situation; because they're female. Never mind that they're villainesses and just blew up a motel in the attempt to kill one person (probably killing many more innocents in the process). Never mind that they have guns and 47 has to defend himself while unarmed. They're female and therefore, any violence against them = bad. Are we honestly supposed to accept that even when your life is being threatened by women, a man should sooner accept death than dare to harm such angels? According to the critics, yes.

Now, while I've mentioned the women in both of these trailers for most of this blog, I haven't mentioned the men very much. Agent 47 and, for lack of a better name, "Lara's Assailant". The reason I've kept quiet about the two of them is simply because there aren't as many criticisms to counter. However, it really says something when rapists -- male, of course -- are appearing for the first time in a Tomb Raider game and all people can comment on is how sexist it is against women. On the off-chance that there are any women who are reading this blog, I'm going to let you in on a little non-secret; men get pissed off at the lack of positive male role models in the media too. Be they helpless sitcom husbands and useless dads or Lifetime movie-of-the-week domestic abusers and rapists, there's plenty for men to get annoyed about. So what's it like to have Tomb Raider -- you know, the series about the witty, upper-class female archaeologist? -- turned into one of those incredibly sexist Lifetime movies-of-the-week, complete with rapist? Who, of course, Lara exacts revenge on. And how! While Agent 47 respectfully closes the eyes of the Saints' leader, Lara comes out of it looking like she just performed a Fatality:

Now, if you've been keeping up, you'll have noticed that I'm taking Crystal Dynamics' word for it that there is no sexual assault in the Tomb Raider reboot. However, if I was in a similar mindset as the people who criticised Tomb Raider for the sexual assault, it would follow that Lara's Assailant was also a sexual predator. So if you believe one, you have to believe the other.

There isn't much to say about Agent 47, although I'm sure if someone were to criticise my parallel of the two games, they'd point out that while Lara is being portrayed as "weak" for the first time in the series, 47 is as strong as ever, able to fight off eight armed enemies at once. However, I would say that's a flawed argument for this reason; in the critics' eyes, both Lara and the Saints are the victims while 47 and Lara's Assailant are the perpetrators. Plus, from a non-gender issues point-of-view, Lara being the victim works from a storytelling standpoint while 47 being a victim wouldn't.

There were a few other criticisms of the Saints, of course. On the topic of sexual objectification: yes, the Saints are sexy. However, try to keep something in mind; the Hitman series has featured more than one fetish club. Also, lest we forget, it's about a man who murders people for a living. Objecting to adult themes in Hitman is senseless. It's also worth mentioning that the Saints make far more memorable villains dressed as they are than if they were dressed less outrageously. I'm almost certain there'll be people who read that sentence and respond with "uhh, are you trying to justify objectification because the women make better villains than if they were dressed sensibly?", to which my answer would be a resounding "yes". A good villain is an important thing to have in this kind of game and, although I'm not completely shrugging off the objectification, the critics shouldn't shrug off the value of a good villain either. Want proof? Okay. Who's more memorable, Lara's Assailant or The Saints? Without looking at the E3 trailer above, could you describe Lara's Assailant? Could you draw fan art of him from memory? Would you even want to? That's only considering what little we know at this point, so I could turn out to be completely wrong. I'm guessing Lara's Assailant won't be anything special but the Saints could end up being lousy too.

The other criticism of the Saints is so frustratingly ludicrous that it pains me to have to answer it, but here goes; violence against virtual women, dressed provocatively, will not encourage sexual violence in real life. I find this point particularly irritating because it's only in the past few years that Jack Thompson has quietened down; we've heard no mention of "murder simulators" or any games that train people to kill. Yet people within, or claiming to be within, our very own community are now levelling these comments towards themselves. It's bizarre and either gives fellow gamers a lack of credit or, the more likely possibility, shows a low opinion of men.

Some previous Hitman adverts. Guess which one was controversial! Here's a clue; it didn't feature a dead male.

These two games represent two different sides of gaming though; Tomb Raider's sexual assault issue is realistic while Hitman Absolution's objectification issue is clearly unrealistic. So there are two different things the critics need to take away from this: for Hitman, accept that games are fictional. They're fantastical. We use them for escapism. So deal with the fact that we can have scantily-clad women in games and, more to the point, get over your sexist attitudes and accept that men hitting women in self-defence is actually not unreasonable.

What you should take away from Tomb Raider is that a character's origin doesn't reflect the character as a whole. There's also something else worth mentioning here; at some point during the year, you'll probably run into a blog or comment about whether or not video games can be art. For the people who believe they are, how many of those people also decried the "rape" in Tomb Raider? The reason I ask is because all art tackles the issue of mature themes. Even for those of you who don't believe that games are art, how about this; hypothetically, if Lara's Assailant was attempting to rape her, how is that different from any other video game/movie/television show that builds tension through placing the main characters in danger? Because it's rape? Yet it didn't actually take place, so how can it be misogynistic when Lara proves herself strong enough to kill her (evil male rapist) attacker?

That'll do for now. I'm sorry that this post has been so long but, hey, that's what blogs are for. You can tell from the start of this blog that I wasn't intending to write this much about Tomb Raider and Hitman, to the point that I actually had points prepared about other games. I wrote a lot about the women of each game in this blog when I'd hoped to raise some points about sexism against men instead. Still, it's probably best to start with something people are familiar with than throwing them in at the deep end with new issues.

If you'd like to suggest other topics for future blog posts, feel free to leave a comment below or e-mail me at I welcome all suggestions!

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Why This Blog Exists

Greetings all. Welcome to The Males Of Games.

In spite of the title making this blog sound like a refuge for bishounen fans, it was actually created to counter several points about sexism in video games that I believe are misleading. Over the past few months, I've noticed several sites, such as Gamespot, giving "air time" to articles about the subject of sexism in video games while only considering a feminist point-of-view. While you might've guessed from the title that this blog aims to discuss sexism in games from the point-of-view of a men's rights activist, I'd also like to go into more detail than the typical "objectification" topic that is thrown around as somehow being representative of institutionalised misogyny and sexism against women in the gaming industry. Although I'm sure we'll get to that subject.

I'd like to point out that this blog is not anti-female. However, there will be occasions that I criticise a feminist argument or point-of-view about games. While I recognize that I may be challenging the deep-seated beliefs of some people, and perhaps stirring up emotions in others, it's worth bearing in mind that none of my arguments will be personal attacks and I hope none of yours will be either. I welcome all comments and, while I'm not above censoring certain comments, take my word for it that it will take a lot for me to do so. If you leave a well thought-out argument and debating points, you will not be censored. If you leave nothing but an insult, then, yeah, you probably will be.

I'll tell you a little about myself. While I'm not willing to give out my name, I'm twenty-four years old and live in the north east of England. I've been playing video games for around two decades or so, starting with the Amiga 500+. I doubt this blog will ever become hugely popular but I hope, at the very least, it will provide an interesting perspective on sexism in games.