Category Archives: video games

Quoted: ‘Burn Your Bra’ on Racism And Body Image in Gaming

DMG|BurnYourBra: At tournaments players talk [crap] to each other. That’s just the way tournaments are. People get hyped. Players get salty when they lose, which is fine. But there is a difference between trash talking and calling other players disrespectful names. For me, I’ve been called a dyke, a butch, a slut, a bitch… I was even called a black bitch to my face along with being called a lesbian, a gorilla, and a monkey. Now I know people are going to say that as a player in the community, you have to have a thick skin. I do, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t speak up about the names I’ve been called. Because these names refer to my sex, but most of them refer to my race; which to me is racist. I think some of these people are blurring the lines between trash talk and disrespectful trash talk. And again, this is just my experience on the matter. I don’t know if anyone else has had this experience. So I wrote a note on my Facebook, made it private, and got the opinions of several other black female gamers. They all have had somewhat the same type of experience as I, some have seen it and others have heard of it.

DMG|jason24cf: Another topic you had mentioned in your post was about “not having the look” could you go into that further?

DMG|BurnYourBra: I would love to *laughs*. Well, I don’t feel that it was like this 10 years ago but there is what I call an “Asian Aesthetic” (as in meaning beautiful) in the fighting game community. There is almost an invisible rule in the way male gamers see female gamers in terms of looks. I’ve read and I have come across a lot of individuals who think because a certain person or persons are of Asian descent that they’re automatically good. Now, I will admit, Japanese players are really good, that can’t be denied. But when it comes in terms of females, it feels to me like it’s almost a written rule that if you aren’t Asian, and if you don’t have the look that fits into this beauty hierarchy, then you’re just not good. So, for me, I feel like it’s a double standard that I really can’t fight. I’m not Asian and I don’t have the Asian Aesthetic look. I’m an African American female, so I am looked at as trash by some people. Also, it is a male dominated community, I know of a few girls who have told me they don’t have “the look” or “don’t fit that ideal.” This ideal shouldn’t be used as a rule for females who want to play. So for me, and this is my own personal experience again, I want to be judged by my play. You can say that I suck. And I’m fine with that. But when you base it on my looks then that’s when I have a problem. I’m not there to please the males at the tournament with looks. I’m there to play and to get better. Judge me on my play rather than on my looks.
– From an April 16 interview in Dominion Method Gaming
Image courtesy of Kotaku

The Power of a Story

by Latoya Peterson

I’ve been buried in work for the Public Media Corps – the program ends December 17th, so there is a lot of work to accomplish between now and then.  Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to provide as many updates as I would have liked to on the program, so I am planning a series after I finish to talk about the things I learned over the last six months.

However, I did want to share one quick thing.

Back in September, I helped my co-fellows Brittany and Danielle with their social media club mixer at Anacostia High School.  The mixer was one of my favorite parts of the program since it allowed me to do what I like best – to engage with people.  The kids who came to the mixer were funny and high spirited, just as interested in tech as they were in pizza and trash talking.  I met Tony, a sweet kid who decided he was ready to be the next Jazze Pha and used my help to create his own beat using GarageBand, which he then attempted to convert into a ringtone for his cellphone.  One kid, named Robert, wanted to start a blog but did not have an email address.  So we worked through that process.  A girl named Tiny said she wanted to be a teacher, but later decided she wanted to start a blog to showcase her poetry.

And then, there was Mardez. Continue reading

Epic Fail Of The Week: The ‘PC Master Race’

By Arturo R. García

Yesterday a reader e-mailed us with a tip (emphasis mine):

Recently I’ve begun to notice in the PC Gaming scene this really irritating meme going around that basically consists of people calling themselves part of the PC Master Race and acting like that they’re nearly untouchable to anyone who even thinks to play on a console [XBox 360, Playstation 3, etc.]. Now, the attitude itself that PC Gaming is superior has actually been around for quite a long time and I’ve always considered it nothing more than part of the sophomoric fanboy loyalty that’s extremely rampant in computer gaming in general that I’ve long outgrown. For the record, I do think that PC Gaming is much better if you’re going independent or something since you’ll have much more creative control and won’t have to go through the trouble of worrying about what publishers want, but that’s only if you care enough about making games to begin with, but that’s kinda besides the point.

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Characters Done Right: BioShock 2′s Grace Holloway

By Guest Contributor Denis Farr, cross-posted from Border House

BioShock 2 started off at a slow, plodding pace that made me wonder if I would regret my decision to purchase the game. As many reviews note, it is a game that picks up steam and finishes strongly, in opposition to its predecessor. For myself that moment happened in Pauper’s Drop when I started to encounter Grace Holloway.

At first I was slightly concerned. You go to Pauper’s Drop and are instructed to obtain a key from one Grace Holloway, so as to progress along the Atlantic Express trains. It slowly dawned on me that my target was a jazz singer, with very obvious roots in African American history. Her first messages to you are antagonistic, and given the game’s still primary function of shoot and kill to progress, I thought I would be given little choice as to my actions. However, as you explore the level, you are given a view of Rapture that was not wholly afforded in the first game. While the common worker seemed a motif raised by Atlas in the first game, it never seemed fully fleshed out, instead seeming like a power struggle between two figureheads with citizens caught in between, with little word from those persons directly; in Pauper’s Drop you are given the story of a part of the city that was not built into the original design, but constructed by those who were unfortunate enough to not be able to afford the luxuries the rest of Rapture had to offer. This is where Grace Holloway finds herself.

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Hey Baby: Link Round-up & Open Thread

By Guest Contributor Alex Raymond, cross-posted from Border House

Trigger warning: Street harassment.

So, recently a Flash game was released that caused a bit of a stir on a number of gaming (and feminist) websites. The game is called Hey, Baby, and it is a game about street harassment. It is a first-person shooter where you play as a woman walking around a city fighting off waves of men who approach you while repeating “classic” street harassment lines, everything from the notorious “Smile, baby” to shouted rape threats. Killing the harassers results in a gravestone popping up with their line engraved on it. There are also both male and female bystanders who do nothing and can’t be killed. If possible, I do recommend playing the game a little before reading this post; it’s a Flash game and only takes a minute to play, although it is quite violent.

There have been a number of different reactions to the game around the internet. It has started a conversation in the gaming online community about street harassment (and in the feminist blogosphere about satirically violent video games), and for that alone, I think this is a win. But I’d like to take a closer look at the various reactions surrounding the game.

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The Sims Just Did This Totally Racist Thing

The Sims

by Guest Contributor Quadmoniker, originally published at PostBourgie

So, I think everyone knows that I’m a big fan of the Sims. Though the third iteration of the game has had its problems, I still spend more money than I should adding on to it. Against my own better judgment, I just bought the most recent expansion pack.  It created a whole new town, with new families already populating it.

The Sims has been pretty good about allowing for diversity. It’s easy to choose your own skin color and features, and because the characters speak their own made up language it’s not culturally specific.

They live in a suburban idyll, and weird classist things have troubled me in the past: there are “trailer parks” with characters uncomfortably close to white trash stereotypes. In the newest town, there is a black family with a single mom of two sons who has worked her way up by being a cook. She is overweight, and her bio talks about how hard it’s been to raise her boys on her own. Both the bios for the sons talk about how hard it’s been growing up without a father. I’d be willing to give it a pass if it didn’t involve every stereotype possible.

Social Justice And Video Games

by Latoya Peterson

Here are the slides to our presentation, with a few quick notes added. Check back in about three hours, and we will have the video of the session and the Q & A available (just as soon as it finishes loading.)

Some things to remember: We found ourselves with about four hours of material that needed to be shrunk into forty minutes – so a lot of things we wanted to discuss (the Jade Raymond situation, recruitment and outreach from the gaming industry, how different races/ethnicity are represented in games) hit the cutting room floor. In one of the segments, I refer to a fifty page paper I’m holding on to – that paper covers those topics more in depth, and I will publish it here after I revise it some more.

(Special thanks to Naomi and N’Gai for agreeing to be on the panel, everyone who showed up, those who weren’t there but tweeted and retweeted the findings, and Allison Bland for volunteering to tape this!)

Social Justice and Video Games – Part 1 from Latoya Peterson on Vimeo.