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Flawed arguments are hurting discussion on diversity & representation issues in games

Llyrwenne

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Since early last year, we have started to see more threads on NeoGAF discussing various representation issues in games. Threads about the representation of women and related issues like sexism, threads about minority and LGBT representation and people calling these issues out. Across these threads, I noticed that certain flawed arguments or disingenuous positions keep finding their way into these discussions, undermining them and ultimately steering discussions away from the actual issues. As it has become rather frustrating to try and point these things out in every single thread ad infinitum, I felt I should make this thread to address some of the more commonly used arguments and how they are flawed. I believe moving away from these types of arguments would go a long way in acknowledging the issues in the gaming industry when it comes to diversity and representation issues. I hope this thread might give some insight into why these arguments are flawed, or at the very least provide a basis for discussion on these arguments and others like them.

EDIT: While most of the examples I used relate to sexism and female protagonists, it goes without saying that representation issues are prevalent in the industry across race / sexuality / nationality / culture / religion / etc. and their intersections. I want to encourage you to search the web for articles on these issues. One article I will link here is Video Games' Blackness Problem, brought to my attention in this thread by Heart of Black.



One of the more popular arguments is that artistic integrity / creative freedom is important and that discussing diversity issues / criticizing developers for the content of their game or the statements they make infringes upon that artistic integrity. When a decision or statement by a developer is criticized for being insensitive / ignorant in regards to representation issues, someone will come in and say how they value creative freedom and how developers should be free to make any choice they want. This line of thinking implies that those criticizing the decision / statement are ‘against' creative freedom and singles out diversity issues and discussion of them as a form of censorship.

But why are discussion and criticism supposedly so specifically infringing on freedoms when it concerns diversity issues? In every creative medium, we have criticized and discussed creative decisions made by creators, criticized and discussed the impact of creative works, etc. That discussion itself does not tear down artistic freedoms. Criticism is not censorship. When George Lucas had the idea that Jar-Jar was ‘the key to all this', we criticized him, did we not? When he wrote dialogue about sand, he was criticized, was he not? Was that infringing on his artistic freedom?



And of course we criticize and discuss many, many, creative decisions made by game developers too. Bioware got criticized when the ending of Mass Effect 3 disappointed. Ready at Dawn got criticized for their use of black bars in The Order 1886 and their choice to make a cinematic game. Final Fantasy XIII got criticized for being linear. Adam Orth got criticized for his statements on always-online. Keiji Inafune and his Mighty No.9 got criticized for a whole slew of reasons, including a line in a trailer for the game. Why is criticism okay in those instances, but infringing on creative freedom when it's about diversity and representation issues?

If we look at the issue of sexism in particular, everybody generally seems fine with calling out Hideo Kojima when he says his sexualized characters will have the best story ( Late pre-post edit: Apparently not? ) or when he says ‘you will be ashamed of your words and deeds';



But then when Eiji Aonuma says this:


Or the marketing director of Final Fantasy XV says this:

”People say Cindy is too sexy, but they also want female party members. That seems contradictory to me."

Or when someone speaks out against the industry or brings an issue to light, then suddenly people come in and to say how developers have creative freedom and we shouldn't criticize them or talk about issues, because that somehow infringes on that freedom. This dangerously likens discussion of an issue and criticism to censorship and provides no real basis for further discussion.

Artistic integrity and creative freedom are important, but they are not shields to deflect criticism or discussion with and should not be used as such. If you want to invoke artistic integrity, first think about why you feel the topic at hand is so especially infringing on it and think about whether that feeling is justified or not. Is something actually damaging creative freedoms, or are you creating a straw man by assuming that criticism equates to wanting to ‘force' a developer to do something?

EDIT: This post by Nepenthe adds to this section by explaining why using 'artistic integrity' to deflect criticism devalues artists.
EDIT: I made a post clarifying why I included the Aonuma quotes + general Zelda discussion notes.



Also common are a range of arguments / comments based on the status quo, or rather people's perception of the status quo and a belief that it cannot or should not change.

Probably the most popular of these is the perpetuation of the myth that the gaming market exists overwhelmingly out of ( white ) men and that this means a female ( or black ) protagonist is not profitable or viable. There are several issues with this. First, the market is much less male-dominant than people often claim ( 'Active console gamers at 60/40 gender split, usage data & genre preferences revealed' for one example ). Second, the argument assumes that this market is static and that demographics cannot ( or in some cases even should not ) change. Third, it assumes the market acts as a monolith ( as in; all male gamers are not interested in a female protagonist and all white gamers are not interested in a non-white protagonist ). And fourth, there is no significant proof available to us that tells us having - for example - a female protagonist by itself makes a game less profitable.

Continuing with female protagonists as example; some people might be tempted to bring up past games with female protagonists - games like Bayonetta 2, Gravity Rush, Mirror's Edge 2, and Rise of the Tomb Raider - and point out how they did not sell well in comparison to AAA titles with male protagonists, but that glosses over the context in which titles like those were released. Bayonetta 2 and Gravity Rush were niche games on platforms with small install bases, with no significant marketing backing to speak of. Mirror's Edge 2 was poorly marketed and then released with little to no fanfare - to the extent that even some people here on GAF didn't know it had released. Rise of the Tomb Raider skipped the PS4 for a year and lost people who were disappointed with the Tomb Raider reboot. Etc. Nothing points to games like these failing because they have a female protagonist.

There simply have been no recent AAA releases with female protagonists to base this claim on. This is why it will be important to look at Horizon: Zero Dawn and The Last of Us Part II; two flagship AAA titles featuring a female protagonist with full marketing backing from a huge publisher ( thanks, Sony, and probably Naughty Dog for their work with The Last of Us ). If games supposedly are less profitable purely for having a female protagonist, then surely we will be able to see that impact in the performance of these games?



Another point for the ‘status quo'-category: comments on how we're already doing well and should ‘let the developers do their work'. These comments often point to a limited amount of positive examples to claim that the issue is not that bad. For example; saying ‘look at Horizon: Zero Dawn and the Last of Us Part II; they have female protagonists, we're doing fine!' while completely ignoring that we are only just now getting these AAA titles with female protagonists. Generally, there's absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out and championing positive examples. The problem lies in that a lot of these comments use these positive examples to excuse negative examples or to attempt to dismiss the existence of an issue entirely. ‘There is no issue, because good examples exist.' / ‘This issue isn't that big, because some progress is being made'. This takes away from the discussion on the issue by trying to argue that the issue ‘isn't really that bad'. Instead of acknowledging the issue and discussing it, it becomes about negotiating how bad the issue is.  



One interesting tool that has found its way into diversity discussions is the shoehorn. Some people claim that campaigning for diversity and representation will lead to developers and publishers ‘shoehorning in' minority characters. Others voice their concerns about the writing of potential minority characters, going so far as to say that they are okay with minority characters, ‘but only if the writing is good'. This concern and talk about hypotheticals is used by some to argue against inclusion of minority characters.

One of the underlying problems with the ‘only ok if the writing is good' argument is that it holds non-male / non-white / non-straight characters to a higher standard of writing than male / white / straight characters. It imposes an arbitrary requirement for the inclusion of a minority character to be acceptable, whereas no such requirement is imposed on white / male / straight characters. It argues that they are not equal and that they should not be treated equally. A bland cookie-cutter white male protagonist is acceptable and in-offensive because it is seen as the ‘default', but a poorly written minority character is seen as unacceptable to the point that some argue against inclusion of them as a whole. Criticizing poorly written minority characters for their poor writing is absolutely justified, but arguing that minority characters shouldn't be included because they could possibly be written poorly is not. This double standard, this perception of the ‘white straight male default', is problematic.

Some push this idea further and say they are concerned that publishers will force developers to include minority characters in their games. These people seem to ignore the current reality, where some publishers outright reject game ideas for having a female protagonist; for example, Dontnod Entertainment had several publishers tell them that they could not have a female protagonist in Remember Me and said they faced similar resistance when trying to find a publisher for Life is Strange. Naughty Dog had to step in themselves during development of The Last of Us to get the research group to use female focus testers and faced resistance for wanting Ellie to be prominently featured on the cover. What they fear is already happening, just in a different way, and that is part of the issues we discuss that these arguments are attempting to push against. This also links back to the concerns about ‘artistic integrity'; if you are truly a champion of creative freedom, should you not stand here with us to speak out against this current culture in the industry?

On top of that, there's also a ‘general' layer of double standard in the sense that certain things are reflexively considered ‘pandering' by some. An LGBT+ character being open about their sexuality is ‘forced', yet nobody complains about characters being openly heterosexual. Why is the idea of LGBT+ relationships so particularly offsetting to some, while they accept the relationship between Nathan and Elena as normal?



This double standard is also a consistent factor in other arguments pointed out in this post. Characters having relationships is fine, but not if they aren't heterosexual, because that's ‘shoehorning' and ‘pandering' and ‘politics'. Criticizing developers for creative decisions is fine, but not when it comes to diversity issues, because that infringes on ‘artistic integrity' and ‘creative freedoms'. Games being political is fine, but not when it comes to representation issues, because then ‘it's shoving things down my throat'.



Another regular feature in diversity threads is people claiming that they ‘don't see race' and similar claims.

Some believe this ‘race-blindness' is a virtue; after all, it means that they see everyone as equal, and that is a good thing, right? The term is used by many with the intention to say ‘I am blind to race, therefore everyone should be treated equally' - something which does not seem controversial at first glance. The problem comes when this is used as an argument against diversity, inclusivity, or representation. Why would wanting everyone to be treated equally be an argument against those things?

The essence is that when some people say they ‘don't see race', it often instead means that they do not see racial issues. It is not that they want everyone to be treated equally, it is that they believe that people are currently already being treated equally. In this context, this argument is then used to argue against diversity and inclusivity, because those things are seen as things that break the ‘existing' equality. This sweeps existing issues under the rug while at the same time claiming to be on the moral high ground for ‘supporting equality'. It is not blindness to race, it is blindness to race-related issues. It is almost inevitable that someone takes the concept of ‘race-blindness' to its flawed conclusion.

By claiming to have moral high ground, the door is closed to further discussion, because if you argue against this, some will claim that those arguing for diversity or representation are actually the ones in the wrong because ‘they are dividing people by race or sex or orientation'. After all, if you truly think everyone is equal, then everybody is the same, and thus there is no point in arguing for more diversity or representation because it is not needed. This same basic way of thinking is what led to ‘all lives matter'. It shifts the blame of the issue existing onto the people who call the issue out.



See also: 2064: Read Only Memories devs tell Trump voters to skip their game and people claiming that calling out fascism is pretty much the same as fascism itself. A.k.a. ‘if you are truly tolerant, you should respect and be accepting of people who actively push policies that directly restrict your rights because all ideologies are equal'. It basically turns into 'no, you!'.

The concept of ‘colour-blindness' does not contribute positively to discussion or acknowledgement of issues. It is overwhelmingly used to excuse other flawed arguments by claiming to be on the moral high ground and in some cases it distracts from the actual issue by attempting to pin the existence of that issue on the party that calls it out.

There are plenty of articles and opinion pieces out there describing the many ways in which the general concept of ‘colour-blindness' is flawed ( Colorblind Ideology Is a Form of Racism for example ), which I also encourage people to check out.



Lastly I'd like to shortly touch on people shifting the discussion to being about the source of a story rather than the story itself. Whenever a diversity thread is discussing a report / opinion / remark from a source that is not NeoGAF, there are people who make an effort - either consciously or not - to discredit that source. In the Only 3% of games shown at E3 keynotes featured exclusively female protagonists thread, people tried to frame Feminist Frequency as ‘cherry-picking results', and in the recent Ashley Judd calls out gaming industry in TEDtalk for hypocritical stance on GamerGate thread, the entire discussion warped around a single comment she made and speculation around that comment. Any thread on diversity issues is likely to attract random ad-hominem attacks or people feeling the need to say they have non-relevant, non-specific ‘issues' with the source.

Now, to be clear; if there are legitimate problems with a source relevant to the issue being discussed, then it is absolutely right to point these out and discuss them. Actual problems can and should be a point of discussion. Most of the time though, it isn't actual problems being discussed; it is people making assumptions and projecting them back at the source. It is arguing about ultimately insignificant technicalities on how the source interpreted their data. It is people ignoring the broader point that is being made to attack a specific comment not immediately relevant to that broader point.

If the source is specific, they are ‘cherry-picking' and framed as biased. In the 3% thread, numerous people dropped in to talk about how they thought Fem Freq was too strict or how they should have included game X or game Y or how they were deliberately making the statistics ‘look worse'. This attitude served only to distract from the actual issue the statistics brought to light. Instead of talking about the lack female protagonists in gaming, they talked about how if only Fem Freq had added this game or counted that game differently, the percentages would have been slightly and ultimately insignificantly different. This also loops back into the ‘it's not really that bad'-argument.

If the source is not specific enough, the discussion gets bogged down with people making assumptions and discussing the possible details of what could have been meant. The Ashley Judd thread warped almost completely around a single part of a single comment she made in her speech on online harassment; ”...games that maim and dump women for sport.". Instead of looking at the larger issue, people began speculating about what games she might have meant with this one comment and then discussing whether or not those games were sexist. The discussion moved away from discussing the actual issue at hand - harassment in the videogame community and the lack of effort from the industry to do something about it - and formed itself around speculation on that one comment.

By attacking or attempting to delegitimize the source when there is no real basis to do so, the discussion moves away from talking about the actual issues. As a positive note; this ‘attacking the source' seems to have mostly disappeared from recent Tropes vs. Women ( Anita Sarkeesian / Feminist Frequency ) threads, though it can be debated whether that is because people realized that it was wrong to do so or because those people started to avoid these threads altogether.



I feel the arguments presented here have more or less the same end result; they distract from the actual issues at hand, whether intentional or not. I believe that these types of arguments hurt discussion on diversity and representation in videogames and think that moving away from using them - or discussing them in centralized thread like this - would go a long way to get certain people to acknowledge some issues in gaming / the industry / the community. Let's move towards acknowledging that certain issues exist, and use that as a platform for discussion instead of trying to argue that issues do not exist.

Great posts from other members;
Weltall Zero and Nepenthe on why it is so frustrating to have to point these things out.
EDIT: Enduin on the importance of introspection and understanding.


Other regular comments I did not point out in detail in this thread;

‘They should make their own games!' - Some people's belief that making AAA games is probably very easy and that if you have an issue you should just go make your own games while not addressing the root of the issue in the larger industry. Adds nothing to the discussion nor indicates a desire to participate in it.

‘Historical accuracy' - A point that can be of legitimate concern for a certain set of games, but in general gets thrown around too much to excuse for shortcomings in games that actually don't really care about historical accuracy at all. Double standard in that certain historical inaccuracies don't really seem to matter, but when it relates to minority representation it's suddenly not acceptable.

'Diversitypocalypse' - The idea that pushing for better representation will eventually lead to a scenario where literally every game has token representation front and center for every possible minority group. An extension of the ‘shoehorning' argument. Some knowingly or unknowingly use this as basis for a straw man ( ‘if you argue for diversity, this is what you want' ).

'Keep politics out of games!' - Recently picking up steam. Some people's belief that politics have no place in videogames, despite the fact that a lot of videogames are already inherently political. This singles out diversity and representation as ‘political issues' that should not be discussed. Often goes paired with a ‘not in my games'-mentality. Related thread on this by Nepenthe: Why Games Don't Feel Like Art.
 

callmeCata

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First off, props on the presentation and depth! This thread will either be a complete cluster fuck or have some nice discussion. Looking forward to it either way :D

To actually comment: I think the indie game scene has had a great influence on solving gaming lack of diversity and that AAA is lagging behind, I also agree that more progress could be made each year. Hopefully Horizon 0 isn't a bomb and it spurs some change. Honestly this isn't a huge issue or me but I look forward to the discussion.
 

igordennis

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Great post/thread. I read everything not because anything there is new to me, really, all that stuff is fairly obvious if you can think critically at all, but because of the effort you put in. In an ideal world every person on this site would read it too. That would (hopefully) make all the future threads about those issues have way less shitposts.
 

daxgame

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Tbh the whole controversy about that Aonuma quote has always been really, really reaching. The FFXV one is completely different.
 

commish

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Great post, OP. Nice to see something like this instead of another LTTP Bloodborne or "is the Switch a handheld system or a console??"

At work now so can't comment yet but will later. Interesting topic. Hopefully the thread doesn't turn into a shitshow.
 

LionPride

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Tbh the whole controversy about that Aonuma quote has always been really, really reaching. The FFXV one is completely different.
Reaching? I don't think so


Anyways, Fantastic OP. I hate seeing diversity threads here because this place has a smaller tendency to call out dumb bullshit exactly what it is, dumb bullshit
 

Tripolygon

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The one that gets me is the "but is the character deep" the character has to have a profound back story and reason for being in the game. Come on, why can't there be diverse characters in games , just because?
 

isaacnukem

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I'm honestly surprised there hasn't been a Legend of Zelda where you play as Zelda as the main protagonist, I mean they made Super Princess Peach(no matter what your thoughts are with her powers). I think it's ripe for a lot of awesome potential story and gameplay ideas.
 

Squire

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Great OP.

Judd's claim (or her words) were cursory at best, ignorant at worst, and she was dismissive of the audience on top of it. She hurt her case, which is itself more than valid. I made a longer post in that thread and I stand by it. People can be and often are obtuse and it's infuriating - I get it - but if you're going to make the argument, it's still in everyone's best interest that you actually make it well.
 

Enduin

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How is it reaching though?

I would like to think that the Triforce bit is more in reference to the Link & Zelda dynamic, not so much Ganondorf aspect. In Hyrule Historia Miyamoto's opening statement ends with him saying basically that whenever evil threatens the world a boy and a girl will emerge to face it.

So in that regard a female Link would upset that boy/girl dynamic they have going with the series, especially as of late in many of the games where Link and Zelda have come together to defeat the various evils threatening Hyrule. Not a fantastic line of reasoning by any means but not totally shit either. But I am biased as I do like the boy/girl dynamic, my only wish is that Zelda was developed more and could lead a game of her own.

Which makes the whole "what would Link do" statement just complete and total shit. No excuses for that.
 

Shaanyboi

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That is one hell of an OP.

Anyway, while I can agree on just about everything you posted, I am more curious to hear from people whose mind has been changed by either these arguments in general, or points presented in more specific critiques like those from Feminist Frequency etc.
 

Snagret

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Great work, dude. There are many times I wish I could've just saved myself some time and linked someone to a thread like this. Everyone should read this OP, even if you agree with everything in it (if only to see each argument so eloquently stated and thoroughly detailed).
 

Frozenprince

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This is one he of an OP. Mad props. Nothing much else I can add but I hope this thread doesn't devolve into the usual crowd of suspects trying to #NotmyGames this.
 

Arkage

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I agree with most of this. I feel like a lot of it has to do with how criticism is interpreted by some as a "forced" call to action (even though nobody is being forced) via an interpretation that certain criticism styles are designed to be a public shaming of sorts. In America in particular, a lot of issues revolving around race, gender identity, and diversity are highly contested political issues, so even when bringing it up in gaming topics, the arguments because partisan-ized whether the observations being made are objective or not.

"Is" v "ought" may be an issue as well. You can say minorities are underrepresented in gaming objectively, but then the "well what should we do about that?" becomes a lot thornier for finding consensus. What to boycott vs what to just tweet angrily vs what to ignore because there's bigger fish to fry becomes all sorts of grey lines where each person finds their own footing.

In any case, the bottom line is that criticism and open dialogue is key to a liberal, democratic society. So any complaints about criticism and open dialogue, in itself, is ridiculous no matter the subject. The best ideas will (hopefully) rise to the top.
Trump better be a damn anomaly
 
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Does the triforce imbue the destinies of individuals with specific genders? If so, why? Is it a god that arbitrarily decides so? Do they have to be of the same sexual orientation? What if they don't love each other?
Is the Hero Of Time ALWAYS male? Is the princess always female? Why?
It is rather pedantic to seek justifications in such a quilted series as Zelda, but at this point, they could afford to play with the narrative a lot more to freshen up the rather cyclical plots.
 

El Topo

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So in that regard a female Link would upset that boy/girl dynamic they have going with the series, especially as of late in many of the games where Link and Zelda have come together to defeat the various evils threatening Hyrule. Not a fantastic line of reasoning by any means but not totally shit either. But I am biased as I do like the boy/girl dynamic, my only wish is that Zelda was developed more and could lead a game of her own.

The reason people want female Link as an option is simply because that seems like the cheapest and least intrusive option.
It seems more likely (and faster) than Nintendo developing a completely new game on the scale of BotW with Zelda as the protagonist.
 

Fishious

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Absolutely great work. The image banners really help to break up the sections and keep things visually interesting, which is good because people need to read the whole thing. I expect I'll probably be linking this in the future. Thanks for taking the time to put this together OP.
 

Crocodile

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That OP is pretty much straight fire. A helpful mental resource for those in need.

That is one hell of an OP.

Anyway, while I can agree on just about everything you posted, I am more curious to hear from people whose mind has been changed by either these arguments in general, or points presented in more specific critiques like those from Feminist Frequency etc.

I will say "don't do it unless you can do it well" was an argument I found decently compelling until it really dawned on me that that was not a standard that was applied to non-PoC/Women/etc. characters. Most games have poor writing in general. It doesn't matter if the PoC/Women/etc. character does too unless you're actually racist/sexist/etc. about it and at that point the quality of the writing isn't the issue.
 

daxgame

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How is it reaching though?

because the world's game has been created in a certain way from the beginning. It's about a myth, a legend. The Triforce is what it is. Myths aren't really supposed to change over time for the sake of "this time the protagonist in the mainline series should be a female".
It would be better if Nintendo created something else instead then, or a spinoff. You can play as Zelda in Hyrule Warriors for example.
I've discussed this with my wife when the article came out (without telling her about it at first) because I was curious to see her reaction. I asked her if she would have liked to play as a female in Zelda, and the first answer was "but isn't the protagonist always the same green guy?" (lol).

The "what would Link do" seems to me "what would be his role in the game then since he's always been the hero". I don't see anything there.

I doubt Aonuma has anything against a female protagonist per se. But it doesn't make sense to put it suddenly in a 20 years old saga that has a certain core structure. Link has always been male. "For once I'd like to play as a female", I mean, no? Otherwise it goes for every game.

The FFXV quote is really bad for obvious reasons instead.
edit: and also, just to be clear, I agree with OP for a good chunk, I remember the stories about The Last of Us and so on very well. I just didn't have much to add to that.
 
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One of hell of a post and shit I've been tired of arguing over for the past few years. One of these days things will get better.
 

pashmilla

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Amazing post, OP. It continues to astound me how the "white male gamer" views anything that doesn't conform to their experience of reality as "pandering", and that if they don't see the problem, then it's not a problem. The comments on my Final Fantasy XV articles were filled with butthurt straight guys who couldn't fathom the idea that a game could possibly be sexist if they, obviously the ultimate authority on every matter in existence, didn't view it as such.
 

Primethius

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Great post.

I love what you've talked about under the double standard banner because it's extremely annoying to see those sorts of arguments still being paraded and people not realizing that they're falling into the "default is white" mind set trap.
 

Mael

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because the world's game has been created in a certain way from the beginning. It's about a myth, a legend. The Triforce is what it is. Myths aren't really supposed to change over time for the sake of "this time the protagonist in the mainline series should be a female".
It would be better if Nintendo created something else instead then, or a spinoff. You can play as Zelda in Hyrule Warriors for example.
I've discussed this with my wife when the article came out (without telling her about it at first) because I was curious to see her reaction. I asked her if she would have liked to play as a female in Zelda, and the first answer was "but isn't the protagonist always the same green guy?" (lol).

The "what would Link do" seems to me "what would be his role in the game then since he's always been the hero". I don't see anything there.

I doubt Aonuma has anything against a female protagonist per se. But it doesn't make sense to put it suddenly in a 20 years old saga that has a certain core structure. Link has always been male. "For once I'd like to play as a female", I mean, no? Otherwise it goes for every game.

The FFXV quote is really bad for obvious reasons instead.

Legend of Zelda is whatever the fuck they want to make.
When you thnk myth and legend do you think train?
Too bad
.
If they decide that they want to make Link female to spice things up a bit,
it won't be as egregious as fucking rail tracks all over Hyrule.
 

Enduin

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Does the triforce imbue the destinies of individuals with specific genders? If so, why? Is it a god that arbitrarily decides so? Do they have to be of the same sexual orientation? What if they don't love each other?
Is the Hero Of Time ALWAYS male? Is the princess always female? Why?

It is rather pedantic to seek justifications in such a quilted series as Zelda, but at this point, they could afford to play with the narrative a lot more to freshen up the rather cyclical plots.

I don't know, nor do I care. I was just expressing what I hope was meant, not what I think actually matters. They can do whatever they want with the series and characters, lore be damned. I have my preferences, but that's all they are, mine. I find most people lack any nuance or creativity that doesn't involve a sledgehammer. So female Link does not interest me at all, among other reasons.

The reason people want female Link as an option is simply because that seems like the cheapest and least intrusive option.
It seems more likely (and faster) than Nintendo developing a completely new game on the scale of BotW with Zelda as the protagonist.

I do not agree with this assessment at all. And I do not care about what is easier. That's not my problem, it's Nintendo's. To me Female Link is a creatively bankrupt move. Though I'm fully aware and understanding that others are passionate about the matter, which is fine. My view is not above anyone else's. But I just find Zelda far more compelling and deserving. As I stated I like the boy/girl dynamic, bit they have not used it at all as well as they could.
 

LotusHD

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This is the best OP I've seen in awhile. Everybody take care to have this saved and ready to link to people when necessary.
 

Inuhanyou

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Good thread and good criticism of the arguments you chose to highlight, i don't see any weaknesses.

Anything i would comment on would probably derail the thread even though i have a single rebuttal to your framing, so i'll leave it at that.
 

Darryl M R

Member
Jun 19, 2013
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Great OP/thread.

...going so far as to say that they are okay with minority characters, ‘but only if the writing is good'

You can find a good chunk of comments whenever a diversity and inclusion thread is brought up.
 

LordKasual

Banned
Jul 28, 2016
5,702
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On Artistic Integrity (or rather, artistic freedom)...there is literally nothing you can do about that except criticize and vote with your wallet. If Nintendo doesn't want to make Link a girl, or provide a playable female version of Link, that's just their prerogative. They have no obligation, and that has nothing to do with censorship. Either they decide it's cool and go with it, or they stand their ground and ignore the argument for it.

Zelda being a princess and Link being the playable hero does not inherently speak to any problem that needs solving. It may be easy to allude to gender trope issues using Zelda, and it may be a good opportunity to change things up for the sake of inclusiveness or whatever since Zelda is a massive franchise. But refusal to do so doesn't and shouldn't be seen as some kind of barrier to progression. George Lucas can write all the garabge that he wants into Star Wars...but at the end of the day, what he says is canon.

But you are free to criticize, and most importantly, vote with your wallet. A developer who creates a game where you can play as a male/female protag will attract a crowd that another wont. When AAA developers feel the need to attract that crowd, they'll follow suit.


Edit:

As for the whole female protag aversion thing...i refuse to believe that this was ever a real issue when it came to statistics, and was just something pushed by stockholders and marketing people. Gamers can't have ever actually felt this way. Female protagonists have been selling games for ages now, and there is no shortage of games that feature female protagonists as one of the biggest selling points of the game. Just look at Overwatch. Tracer is fucking everywhere. Or League of Legends? Katarina, Sona, Ahri, Fortune, ect are just as (if not more) iconic than the lead male characters of the game.

The execs may discourage it because the believe males sell games better than females, but that's just as shortsighted as the whole "lol nobody likes horror games anymore" thing. Rooted in nothing.
 

His Majesty

Banned
Feb 4, 2014
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Great job on addressing a lot of faux arguments that I see popping up regularly. I'd like to add something to one of the articles you cited in your post however.


Many players have responded to concerns about the lack of people of color in The Witcher 3 by saying it's because the world is based on Slavic mythology.

Because Slavic people are predominantly white, it therefore is in keeping with nods to that mythology to only feature white people in the game's world. Just as you would feature Indian people if you were making a game based on Indian mythology, so you would do the same for Slavic.

But this misses a crucial point: Things are not equal. We are not in a medium that features predominantly Indian men, Chinese women, or focuses on stories from Africa. We're part of an industry that frequently tells the stories of white people and stars white people.

There has been a lot of discussion on The Witcher 3 and the lack of coloured people in it already but time and time again I see people like the author of this article equating diversity with skin colour. They are not the same. I find it really sad that a game heavily influenced by Slavic folklore and created by a people with such a rich and painful history is reduced to 'stories of white people'.
 

MoonFrog

Member
Jul 25, 2015
4,129
0
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Good OP, but let's not kid ourselves that these threads aren't overflowing in bad arguments from every angle to every end.

E.g. with the Zelda issue being discussed there was so much "Link should be a girl," which, when pressed tended to be walked back from being an ought claim. Yet at the same time it needed to be an ought claim to do the argumentative work people were trying to get done. If it was just a statement of "I want Link to be a girl," that doesn't get you to everyone who wants Link to be a boy is wrong to want such or to Nintendo is bad, should be boycotted, betrayed us, etc. in not making Link female. And these were the things being argued.

So you had Link must be boy "because lore" or because "girls can't do things" on one side and conflation of a generalized ought with a specified ought on the other side. And you got trash fire threads. People were defensive as to why they want Link a boy and felt the tug of "yes there need to be more female characters" or felt a contrary, sexist impulse that "no, we don't need better representation." And other people were over-eager to force a square peg into a circular hole so to speak.
 

Dio

Banned
Apr 3, 2013
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Great OP/thread.

You can find a good chunk of comments whenever a diversity and inclusion thread is brought up.

I mean yeah, I do get what the OP's trying to say about double standards.

On the other hand, would you say that a writer whose worldview is limited to 'gay people are flamboyant, feminine and wear pink and sashay around' and doesn't really have any experience with actual gay people should just avoid writing that character? I mean, obviously ideally you'd want to educate them and they'd be a better writer that understands more of the world around them, but this isn't always possible.
 

Kwame120

Banned
Dec 29, 2015
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That's a great post OP, it successfully tackles the problems with the standard arguments themselves, while also demonstrating the double standard that people have when it comes to diversity.

Excluding those who are simply racist, I think it's a matter of maintaining the status quo. People are used to perceiving something as harmless, as its only been recently challenged or perhaps doesn't affect them, that they become hostile towards any attempts to change it.

For example, the Super Mario series. The gender stereotypes of the series - in particular the mainline games - has only recently been challenged, relative to the time that it's existed, anecdotally. Thus, the pill that its sexist is a hard one to swallow, you'll often find people arguing that its "harmless", simply an "old storytelling trope", without understanding that it is in fact harmful towards self esteem and gender representation, and that something being old and "working" for a while doesn't necessarily mean that it has beneficial effects. The last point is easy to prove, you just have to consider something morally repugnant like slavery, and note that it was probably (actually in my given case) the standard somewhere for a significant amount of time.

It's just something to consider, that for many its a case of ignorance - they do not understand the issues with something, or do not want to understand for wont of keeping it in its current state, thus an educational and demonstrational approach seems like it would be effective. Showing that is IS harmful, perhaps with juxtaposition with something closer to them; and showing that diverse games can be just as fun. If anything, more so - variety is the spice of life, after all.
 

Inuhanyou

Believes Dragon Quest is a franchise managed by Sony
Jul 26, 2014
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America
I will say that there were plenty of people who were against that weak excuse for female Link or the abhorrent comment that the marketing director made about Cindy.

In regards to FF15, think it may have been the case that a lot of people had not see said comments, but those that did really had an issue, i know i did.

In regards to female link, i know there were tons more people who wanted a competent Zelda as main character or a 'role reversal', than to outright just make Link a woman.
 

GamerJM

Banned
May 19, 2013
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California
This is a really good topic, but I don't think these arguments are ever going to stop coming up even if people link to topics or posts like this in response to them. The only thing I can think to stop them is to ban people for it (which IMO is too harsh in a lot of cases, there's a difference between unknowingly making a flawed argument and making them deliberately in order to divert attention away from a serious issue). The problem is that they seem to be even more popular elsewhere on the internet except for spaces that are more specific to diversity and representation, so people will keep reading them elsewhere and then spouting them on here. So idk what we're going to do. This is a really good response to all of them though and I agree.
 

El Topo

Member
Mar 21, 2011
16,218
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I do not agree with this assessment at all.

That is a very vague statement. Could you be a bit more precise? Which assessment do you not agree with? Are you saying there is a cheaper or easier way?

And I do not care about what is easier. That's not my problem, it's Nintendo's.

See, this is simply not true. Let us assume someone proposes an option, here giving players the option to play as female Link. If someone argues against it by providing an alternative, then said alternative has to be reasonable (and realistic), else it is not an alternative, but a distraction/excuse.

Though in fully aware and understanding that others are passionate about the matter. But I just find Zelda far more compelling and deserving. As I stated I like the boy/girl dynamic, bit they have not used it at all as well as they could.

No one is saying that Zelda is not more deserving. Are you honestly expecting Nintendo, in the forseeable future, to develop a big budget game with Zelda as the protagonist though? Does that seem realistic?
I'm not arguing against a game with Zelda as the protagonist, but I'm also not pretending that the game is happening.
 

Crossing Eden

Hello, my name is Yves Guillemot, Vivendi S.A.'s Employee of the Month!
Feb 14, 2014
25,271
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Philadelphia
Literally was in the process of making this thread but this'll do and is likely better than I would've come up with.. Seriously, having to explain basic human rights and feminism 101 to disengenous people who are the target audience gets incredibly tiring, especially recently. Like come the fuck on, you KNOW exactly why the objectification of women in games is wrong yet try to phrase it with bullshit questions like "What's wrong with sexy women in gamez?" Bookmarking this thread for future use.