The Philosophy, Art, and Social Influence of games
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Erik_Twice
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Erik_Twice Thu Apr 09, 2015 4:44 pm

J T wrote:They also control for age and education, which is probably good; however, there is a huge third variable problem in this kind of research, which is impossible to get around: people are exposed to sexist media all the time, be it from video games or otherwise.

Yeah, it reminds me of those scientists who wanted to test the impact of pornography on men but couldn't because they couldn't find men who hadn't used it :lol:
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Tempest Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:07 am

I understand that media and society in general is very sexist when it comes to portraying women but, to me, that is avoiding the topic, which is sexism in videogames. For the most part, female characters are usually portrayed as either sex objects, love interests, or characters on the peripheral with no real importance. Even when player avatars are female, these tropes usually come through in their characteristics. There are exceptions, of course, like Jade from Beyond Good and Evil, as one example.

Given that games are a medium where players, independent of their genitals or society’s gender roles, get to take on the role of an avatar in a fantasised world, why do players, especially in online games, focus on the real world gender of another player? Games allow players the opportunity to let go of their physical self, including their gender, to become an anonymous avatar who they imbue with characteristics through their play style and imagination.

And let’s face it, with a few exceptions, the gender of a player’s avatar usually has little effect on the game itself beyond their appearance and voice. Scantily clad female characters are the norm in most games, even in situations when wearing these outfits would be unrealistic, like in frozen wastelands. Meanwhile, male characters are usually, but not always, fully dressed. This is hardly equality and speaks of male privilege.

Another aspect of this is that games draw on very male centric values, which are aggression, antagonism, and violence. I believe videogames are too aggressive and male orientated. It’s great to see that this is slowly changing, but I think an important question to ask is why do games have to be so focused on aggression, antagonism, and violence? Just because other mediums do so? That’s hardly a valid reason. Games are different from most other mediums, allowing player interaction and involvement and should reflect this. Games like Flower are great examples of what can be an immersive and enjoyable experience and there’s no conflict or gender stereotypes – only an objective. Isn’t immersion and enjoyment the main purpose of games? What is it that makes violence and aggression so appealing to male gamers?
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by BoringSupreez Fri Jul 24, 2015 7:35 am

Tempest wrote:Another aspect of this is that games draw on very male centric values, which are aggression, antagonism, and violence. I believe videogames are too aggressive and male orientated. It’s great to see that this is slowly changing, but I think an important question to ask is why do games have to be so focused on aggression, antagonism, and violence? Just because other mediums do so? That’s hardly a valid reason.

The reason is that aggression, antagonism, and violence is what people are interested in. It's what they find entertaining. Sex and violence sell better than just about anything else. That's why those other mediums focus on it, as you acknowledge.

Games are different from most other mediums, allowing player interaction and involvement and should reflect this.

The market alone determines what games should reflect.

Games like Flower are great examples of what can be an immersive and enjoyable experience and there’s no conflict or gender stereotypes – only an objective. Isn’t immersion and enjoyment the main purpose of games? What is it that makes violence and aggression so appealing to male gamers?

Violence and conflict are a part of real life, and so are relatable. Testosterone also plays a key role in male interest in violence. It's only natural. Note the way dogs play-fight with each other for fun.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Exhuminator Fri Jul 24, 2015 9:37 am

Tempest wrote:What is it that makes violence and aggression so appealing to male gamers?

Because those things are fundamental aspects of the young male testosterone infused psyche, but society frowns upon acting upon said aspects in real life.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Tempest Fri Jul 24, 2015 8:08 pm

Thanks for the interesting responses.

BoringSupreez wrote:The reason is that aggression, antagonism, and violence is what people are interested in. It's what they find entertaining. Sex and violence sell better than just about anything else. That's why those other mediums focus on it, as you acknowledge.

It’s not what all people are interested in, especially if you follow the growing feminist movement in videogames. Thankfully, we now have developers, especially in the indie scene, looking for more humane methods of playing videogames. I hope this trend becomes more prevalent.

Just because sex and violence sells, and because other mediums focus on it, does that make it moral for videogames to pursue it? Particularly when the effects of the interactive and immersive qualities of videogames are less known than other mediums?

BoringSupreez wrote:The market alone determines what games should reflect.

From a commercial perspective, you are correct, of course. But the market for videogames is changing, and with it, the demand for different types of games. The industry is in a state of transition and, to me, that makes now a very interesting time to be a gamer.

BoringSupreez wrote:Violence and conflict are a part of real life, and so are relatable. Testosterone also plays a key role in male interest in violence. It's only natural. Note the way dogs play-fight with each other for fun.

Exhuminator wrote:Because those things are fundamental aspects of the young male testosterone infused psyche, but society frowns upon acting upon said aspects in real life.

Violence and conflict are a part of life if you live in a country ravaged by war, but in first-world countries, not so much. The media over sensationalises much of the aggression and violence in society because, as you said, violence, as well as sex, sells. I’m not saying we live in an idyllic world – aggression and violence do exist in the first world –, but think about your day to day experiences of the world and then tell me aggression and violence is prevalent in society.

You are correct that testosterone plays a large role in adolescent and young adult males’ interest in violence and aggression. When this was the traditional target audience for games, I can understand its prevalence. Now that the audience for videogames is much broader and older (the average age of gamers is 34 here in Australia and similar in other countries), is it really necessary for this to be the main gameplay aspect of most games? I don’t think so.

This might be going off topic, but what does this say about that (my) generation of gamers? I understand that videogames can be a positive method for channelling male aggression, but how does channel into the real life values and actions of these players?
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Exhuminator Fri Jul 24, 2015 10:54 pm

Tempest wrote:but think about your day to day experiences of the world and then tell me aggression and violence is prevalent in society

It's not prevalent in society, because it is damaging to real life society. That's why we get our violence fix in movies, contact sports, professional fighting, video games, and whatever other forms of media can convey it. At least having vicarious violence virtually is far better than say the Roman coliseums were with actual combatants died for the entertainment of the masses.

Ask yourself why it is that the best selling and most prevalent gaming genres focus on shooting other people. Especially once the people you were shooting were no longer AIs, but actual real life online people behind the avatars on screen. This implementation of virtual online slaughtering revitalized the industry. From Halo to Call of Duty to Destiny and beyond, fictitiously murdering virtually represented real life strangers continues to make millions of dollars.

Why is it then that in the vast majority of games you kill or destroy things? (Even in Mario you're killing goombas and koopas.) It's because deep down inside accept it or not, there's a violent creature residing in the vast majority of us. A beast that feels pleasure and achievement every single time it overcomes and annihilates some other creature. That's why every headshot, every slain boss, every blown up space ship, every destroyed zombie and every conquered monster addicts us and keeps us buying these violent violent video games.

To change that would require changing part of the core of what a human being is. I doubt it's something we as a society can eradicate very quickly, considering how long it's been part of what we are. I'm not saying it can't be changed, but changing it certainly wouldn't start with censoring violent video games. Violent video games are a side effect of the issue, not the cause.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Tempest Sat Jul 25, 2015 8:48 pm

You’re right – aggression is part of being human and violent videogames, as well as other activities, like you mention, are a positive way of channelling that energy. Football and other sporting matches are good examples of how we have evolved as a species; from actually killing others, as in your example of Coliseum “death matches”, and instead turning it into a nationwide sporting event. I would argue that this can cause real world aggression too because some spectators become so involved in these matches they become violent when the outcome is other than they desire, but that’s another topic.

Still, human beings are multifaceted creatures. Aggression and violence is only ONE part of who we are. And, in my opinion, videogames should reflect this. I’m not suggesting getting rid of first-person shooters (although I’m no longer a fan of the genre due to its increased realism) and aggression in games entirely. Like you said, it serves a purpose in channelling society’s aggression. Instead, I’m proposing developers create different types of games that reflect humanity’s manifold nature. Games like Journey reflect humanity’s search for meaning. Beyond Good and Evil shows that females are not just victims to be saved or sex objects, but are more-than-capable humans. In other words, I’m suggesting that videogames need to expand their palette, which has focused on aggression and violence for the past three decades, and, like all good art, explore the full range of human experience.

These sorts of games might not reflect what the mass market of males wants, but the market is growing and, as other mediums grew and expanded, needs to reflect their needs too.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Exhuminator Sat Jul 25, 2015 10:08 pm

Tempest wrote:I’m suggesting that videogames need to expand their palette, which has focused on aggression and violence for the past three decades, and, like all good art, explore the full range of human experience.

I totally agree with you on this. There are lots of things developers could make games revolve around besides acts of violence and killing. (For example, I'm a huge fan of the Endless Ocean games which have no killing at all in them.) But until the greater masses get burnt out on violence, we're stuck exploring the fringes of gaming niche's in search of such evolutions.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by Tempest Sun Jul 26, 2015 1:00 am

Having read the article that started this topic, I will briefly summarise their findings.

They study used a cultivation theory analysis, surveying 50,012 German people about their videogame usage. Of these, 4,500 players were recruited for a longitudinal study over three years (2011-2013) in which surveyed players’ education level, the average number of hours spent playing videogames per day, week, month, and year, and their sexist attitudes.

They discovered that both age and education negatively affected sexist attitudes, so that young males were more likely to have sexist attitudes than females and older gamers. Less educated females and older males were less likely to play videogames as often. Like studies on aggression, other factors, such personal experience and family and peer influence, have more of a negative effect on a person’s sexist attitudes than media in general. Further, any effects of videogames will differ depending on the person’s preferences for the types of and level of interactivity of the games they play. Moreover, since the study was restricted to Germany, the effects on other countries could not be substantiated.

Overall, the study shows that exposure to videogames or a preference for a particular videogame genre is not predicative of player attitudes towards real world issues. They believe longer longitudinal studies need to be done for conclusive evidence.
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Re: Interesting Research: "Sexist Games=Sexist Gamers?"

by the7k Mon Jul 27, 2015 4:55 am

Have you ever thought that the reason many of the most well known video games are violent and aggressive is because violence is a strength of the medium? In just the same way that story and narration is a weakness of the medium, for pretty much the same reason?

A movie, for example, has to do a lot of work to get you to feel adrenaline during an action scene and, especially with modern movies, they don't usually succeed. Because that person isn't us. We are observers. We can appreciate the character and their relationships, but feeling any sort of primal urges that the character is supposed to be feeling is rare.

Meanwhile, a game has to work very hard to convince us to care about NPCs and whatnot because just telling us that this person is our character's childhood friend isn't going to do anything because we are the character, we aren't just some observer and being told our character feels something we don't feel causes a rift. Meanwhile, when our character is put into harms way, when our character is forced to fight for their life, WE are in harms way, WE are fighting for our life, because we are the character.

I'm not saying all video games should be violent, I'm just saying there is a real and legitimate reason for violent video games to be in the place that they are.
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