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Eiphel

Boy's World / Girl's World - Avoid Gender Binary

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I think what's at play in the original post is not an assertion that there aren't differences between genders. When people talk about 'gender binary' that's not so much what they're getting at.

Nobody argues that there are male tendencies and female tendencies. And there's nothing wrong with a male character who 100% conforms to one tendency or another. In fact, it would be kind of weird if there WEREN'T any very 'boyish' boys or very 'girlish' girls, for example.

Where it becomes something to be concerned about (not for this game, I'm sure it'll be fine, but just in general) is when it is portrayed as a superior or desirable thing that boys follow those male tendencies and girls follow those female tendencies. That doesn't mean there's anything wrong with them doing so, only that sending the message that it's the way it 'should' be can be problematic.

Like you could have a story where there's a girl who is quite stereotypically feminine, and another character who is something of a tomboy, and anything else in between and that's cool. It only starts to become a problem (or at least something that COULD be a problem) when, say, the game was constantly making jokes at the expense of the tomboy character because of the way she acts, or if it was a story about how the tomboy succeeds by rejecting her more boyish traits and becoming a good, feminine girl. I don't think the artform loses anything from moving away from that type of harmful portrayal. That said I'd defend anyone's right to make it - but you can be sure I'd criticize the hell out of it.

So it's not about allowing this or disallowing that. It is, and always has been, about context.

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I'm terribly curious to see how things proceed with the game, particularly regarding whether and (if so) how the story mechanic which seems to be showing up will wind up relating to the topics discussed here. I am anticipating that aspect of the game with both interest and great fear. Trying to overcome a certain fear and dread associated with the state of gender reality and gender ideology in society is something I personally find important to actively do each day. Overcoming the dread to try my best to look at these things directly and without falling into comfortable self-delusion ranks among the most difficult things I feel compelled to do, in fact. The trailer for Broken Age makes me uneasy. I feel like that's one of the intended possible reactions (could be wrong). I say it does so rightfully, though, because the game is shaping up into something which as best my limited perceptions can gather is at least partly about components in humanity's less beautiful reality which thoughtful, self-aware people have a right to feel uneasy about (I'm wording it lightly). I would posit that the tough to look at truth is that sexuality, gender, and its implications represent a convenient dualism which covers and obscures matters much darker and more complicated than stereotyping of the "frilly and pink vs metallic and loud" variety. To sum up and conclude what is shaping up to be an unprompted and depressing viewpoint, regardless of whether these things are to be woven artfully into this great work whose skill and beauty I could never emulate with my crude prose, I will nonetheless say at this point, that at the very least by coincidence there is strange resonance between the picture such circumspection forms into my mind and the title this game has chosen.

Could you clarify what specifically you are apprehensive about? I understand what you're getting at in a general sense, but other than mentioning the trailer I'm not sure I can extrapolate out what you are specifically concerned about with respect to the content of the trailer.

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I really hope this isn’t a “concern” that they will listen to by trying to tip-toe around everything that someone might consider as “problematic”. If they stay largely true to what they did in Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, Stacking, Iron Brigade and so on it shouldn’t be although I have my own concerns after Massive Chalice.

Personally I (and I bet a lot of other people that watched the KickStarter Intro back in the day) would like the game to be the closest it can be to something like The Secret of Monkey Island/Monkey Island 2/Day of the Tentacle/Sam & Max Hit the Road/Full Throttle/Grim Fandango.

It’s already rather clear that it won’t exactly be and this is somewhat disappointing (although a “gag reel/funny” trailer would go a long way to change a lot of people’s opinions before release – I’m still hoping the dialogue will be at least on par with the “Dialogue Tree” sequence shown early on in development) but this doesn’t mean it has to press into the decidedly unfunny concept of social activism and having to scrutinize oneself if a joke or a scene is “appropriate” or not. This kind of a poisonous atmosphere for the creative process would have killed the early LucasArts adventures outright and they would have never become the classics they were meant to be. (For instance they are making fun of a lot of character traits and people, including the main characters which could cause "concerns" nowadays.)

I have the feeling that the OP, even if not outright stated, would like the game to include something along the lines of this instead.

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I really hope this isn’t a “concern” that they will listen to by trying to tip-toe around everything that someone might consider as “problematic”. If they stay largely true to what they did in Psychonauts, Brütal Legend, Stacking, Iron Brigade and so on it shouldn’t be although I have my own concerns after Massive Chalice.

Personally I (and I bet a lot of other people that watched the KickStarter Intro back in the day) would like the game to be the closest it can be to something like The Secret of Monkey Island/Monkey Island 2/Day of the Tentacle/Sam & Max Hit the Road/Full Throttle/Grim Fandango.

It’s already rather clear that it won’t exactly be and this is somewhat disappointing (although a “gag reel/funny” trailer would go a long way to change a lot of people’s opinions before release – I’m still hoping the dialogue will be at least on par with the “Dialogue Tree” sequence shown early on in development) but this doesn’t mean it has to press into the decidedly unfunny concept of social activism and having to scrutinize oneself if a joke or a scene is “appropriate” or not. This kind of a poisonous atmosphere for the creative process would have killed the early LucasArts adventures outright and they would have never become the classics they were meant to be. (For instance they are making fun of a lot of character traits and people, including the main characters which could cause "concerns" nowadays.)

I have the feeling that the OP, even if not outright stated, would like the game to include something along the lines of this instead.

Nobody is suggesting anything of the sort. It's a common misunderstanding that when people talk about these issues they're asking for some sort of special treatment that means other people are going to have to step really carefully which will, in some way, diminish their vision. Actually, in practice all that's being asked is that they don't blithely resort to cliches which, historically, have been somewhat harmful - which I would think is not only a small ask, but also something a creator would already want to be doing if they want to make something enduring.

As I've mentioned, I'm not at all worried about Broken Age in this respect, but I do find it a little disheartening that a few people take the perfectly reasonable original post as some sort of affront to creativity itself.

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Why can't a video game be a video game and not a political statement?

I know the first thing I think when I load up Battlefield 3 is, "Gosh why aren't there any women around, gee this game must only be for men!"

:roll:

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Why can't a video game be a video game and not a political statement?

Why can't something avoid regressive cliches without being a political statement? Why does it have to be a political statement to, y'know, have good characters in your game that don't all conform 100% to gender stereotypes? I mean, most of Tim's games in the past have managed it (plenty of good examples in Full Throttle in particular, I thought), so I can't see why you're so worried that someone specifically asking for it is somehow going to take your vidja games away.

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Why can't a video game be a video game and not a political statement?

Why can't something avoid regressive cliches without being a political statement? Why does it have to be a political statement to, y'know, have good characters in your game that don't all conform 100% to gender stereotypes? I mean, most of Tim's games in the past have managed it (plenty of good examples in Full Throttle in particular, I thought), so I can't see why you're so worried that someone specifically asking for it is somehow going to take your vidja games away.

You seem to be implying that it is inherently a bad thing to have "regressive cliches." I disagree.

Being afraid of appearing gender biased has the same negative impact as the bias itself. I'm not worried about someone taking my games away. I'm worried about someone pushing a political agenda where there isn't/shouldn't be one and I certainly don't want it tacked onto my games.

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Why can't a video game be a video game and not a political statement?

Why can't something avoid regressive cliches without being a political statement? Why does it have to be a political statement to, y'know, have good characters in your game that don't all conform 100% to gender stereotypes? I mean, most of Tim's games in the past have managed it (plenty of good examples in Full Throttle in particular, I thought), so I can't see why you're so worried that someone specifically asking for it is somehow going to take your vidja games away.

You seem to be implying that it is inherently a bad thing to have "regressive cliches." I disagree.

Being afraid of appearing gender biased has the same negative impact as the bias itself. I'm not worried about someone taking my games away. I'm worried about someone pushing a political agenda where there isn't/shouldn't be one and I certainly don't want it tacked onto my games.

Surely you can see the difference, as outlined earlier in this thread, between on the one hand there being gender stereotypical characters in a game - which I don't think anyone is saying there shouldn't be, and on the other hand those characters being presented as the ideal, or characters who deviate from the stereotype being presented as less ideal by being the object of jokes at the expense of their being different or something similar.

A lot of the confusion here and elsewhere is people not seeing the difference between those two things. Take Psychonauts, for example. That game has a range of characters and many of the girls are very girly, many if the boys are very boyish. In addition there are girls who are more tomboyish, and there are definitely boys in the camp who aren't just some idealised form of masculinity. And all of the characters, wherever they fall on the spectrum, are fine. And the reason they are fine is because, for example, the game never pokes fun at the characters who aren't conformist in a way that portrays their differences as weaknesses. Like take the coach for example, whose level has him playing the hyper masculine, military guy. But actually the target of the jokes in that level are on how over the top the coach is. When he blows up the kid at the beginning for acting scared, Raz draws attention to how messed up that is. It could have very easily been a bad example though. Like what if the only scared characters you encountered during the level were girls, or that all the scared boys were ridiculed by in game jokes at their expense rather than the coach? I think that not only would the level have been uncomfortably sexist because of it, but it would have been worse because it would have failed to do its story job of setting up the coach as a character in preparation.

When people talk about avoiding the gender binary, they are talking about avoiding things that reinforce stereotypes (by upholding them as ideals or mocking non conformers) . They're not talking about never having characters in the game that conform to those stereotypes. Do you see the difference?

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This thread is reminding me of the Southpark episode where all the parents begin smelling their own farts.

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/104282/smuggy-san-francisco-town

http://www.southparkstudios.com/clips/104281/come-on-people-now

So what I'm gathering from all of this is...

1- A thread was formed by a frustrated queer trans girl stating that DF needs to be careful to avoid gender binary elements. Surely, any ensuing debate will be informative, productive and purposeful.

2- Sides form, basically stating the viewpoints that:

a1- We agree! We reinforce the argument that DF should avoid gender binary elements.

b1- We should ignore this statement because writers should have creative license to do what they want because fear of offending people will likely hamper the ability to write the characters that we all know and love.

3- These arguments develop with:

a2- We still agree with our initial statement but want to point out that knowing how DF and Tim operate, we don't think this is a road they would pursue. We simply want to make the statement so the aforementioned main point is taken into consideration.

b2- We also stand by our initial statement that this should be ignored. We know that DF and Tim don't roll like this and if they did they would have good reason. It's not always bad to exhibit gender stereotypes. Why must this turn into a political statement (pc garbage aka smug fart smelling)?

4- Banter back and forth:

a3- DF and Tim don't roll like this and we agree that if they did they would have good reason, and that's okay. It's not always bad to exhibit gender stereotypes, but sometimes it is. We have an obligation to consider the politics in which the negative impact of those poor portryals since everything produced ultimately contributes to how the world portrays gender stereotypes. If you're an intellectual you must see our point, if not than you are "the dick in the room". (places head between legs and inhales deeply)

b3- Ok, we agree with that. Except I'm not a dick and certainly not the only dick in the room.

5- Continued

a4- As long as only boys are made fun of for being too masculine and girls are made fun of for being too feminine it's okay. It just can't go the other way around. Not to worry, we both know DF won't knows how to toe the line.

b4- What is the point of this thread again?

a5- To make sure DF avoids gender sensitive issues, which they always do.

b5- Can't argue with that. For some reason I thought it had something to do with social activism.

a6- Nope, definitely not. (Exhales previously inhaled smug fart from lungs)

b6- Oh, ok.

Note how entertained some people against gender stereotyping are by the comment the "dick in the room". Hypocrite much? If you practiced what you preached, meisjoe would have simply been the "ignoramus in the room".

My point, if you haven't already gotten it, is that we all agree that DF will not be insensitive to this issue (as evidenced by their previous works). If you want to debate gender issues, I think it could be done on more appropriate forums.

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My point, if you haven't already gotten it, is that we all agree that DF will not be insensitive to this issue (as evidenced by their previous works). If you want to debate gender issues, I think it could be done on more appropriate forums.

And it is - in fact there's a whole topic on it in the off topic forums. I don't think there's any harm in talking about it in a thread where it is relevant. As much as I appreciate your summary of the argument (although I'm not entirely sure you characterised mine QUITE right), I don't think there's any need for topic policing here.

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Humans are dimorphic. Presumably, the characters are based on humans.

Arguments in favor of the OP seem to adopt a passive aggressive tone in their rebuttal, claiming people are afraid that someone will "take [their] vidjagames away." The reality is that it's people like the OP who are concerned - paranoid even - that their worldview might not be explicitly validated by this game and apparently this is bad.

In reality, the game shouldn't go out of its way to do anything. It would be a slippery slope otherwise. It's equivalent to me asking Double Fine to tone down the handsomeness levels of the characters in the game because I'm insecure about my looks.

Responses that dignify the stance of the OP are equally guilty of pushing an agenda. Not even the weakly stated point "I hope the developers consider this while designing the characters!" is right.

We have no right to meddle in such a way. It's embarrassing because it's obviously for benefits that are beyond the scope of the game, pertaining to politics and the explicit pushing of one particular worldview instead of whatever the creators choose to portray.

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Humans are dimorphic. Presumably, the characters are based on humans.

Arguments in favor of the OP seem to adopt a passive aggressive tone in their rebuttal, claiming people are afraid that someone will "take [their] vidjagames away." The reality is that it's people like the OP who are concerned - paranoid even - that their worldview might not be explicitly validated by this game and apparently this is bad.

In reality, the game shouldn't go out of its way to do anything. It would be a slippery slope otherwise. It's equivalent to me asking Double Fine to tone down the handsomeness levels of the characters in the game because I'm insecure about my looks.

Responses that dignify the stance of the OP are equally guilty of pushing an agenda. Not even the weakly stated point "I hope the developers consider this while designing the characters!" is right.

We have no right to meddle in such a way. It's embarrassing because it's obviously for benefits that are beyond the scope of the game, pertaining to politics and the explicit pushing of one particular worldview instead of whatever the creators choose to portray.

I'm sorry, did my replies come across as passive aggressive? My intention was for them to be merely aggressive - not towards the people I'm replying to, mind you, but towards the kind of attitude that labels the perfectly reasonable and mild mannered points raised in the original post and subsequently clarified as 'paranoid' and then go on to twist those words to make them appear as if some big political demand was being made.

Yes, I am aggressive towards that kind of attitude, and with reason. The idea that someone can't calmly state their views (which, when you get to the meat of them are actually not even particularly shocking) without being accused of paranoia or meddling is something that I find highly disheartening, and I will - even aggressively - speak against.

Your points, meanwhile, miss the target in exactly the same way as many of the other posters here, and I'm sure I don't know what the entirely irrelevant link about sexual dimorphism was supposed to add to the discussion as it is, by the way, a related but very separate issue to gender which is what the poster wanted to start a conversation about.

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Humans are dimorphic. Presumably, the characters are based on humans.

Arguments in favor of the OP seem to adopt a passive aggressive tone in their rebuttal, claiming people are afraid that someone will "take [their] vidjagames away." The reality is that it's people like the OP who are concerned - paranoid even - that their worldview might not be explicitly validated by this game and apparently this is bad.

In reality, the game shouldn't go out of its way to do anything. It would be a slippery slope otherwise. It's equivalent to me asking Double Fine to tone down the handsomeness levels of the characters in the game because I'm insecure about my looks.

Responses that dignify the stance of the OP are equally guilty of pushing an agenda. Not even the weakly stated point "I hope the developers consider this while designing the characters!" is right.

We have no right to meddle in such a way. It's embarrassing because it's obviously for benefits that are beyond the scope of the game, pertaining to politics and the explicit pushing of one particular worldview instead of whatever the creators choose to portray.

I'm sorry, did my replies come across as passive aggressive? My intention was for them to be merely aggressive - not towards the people I'm replying to, mind you, but towards the kind of attitude that labels the perfectly reasonable and mild mannered points raised in the original post and subsequently clarified as 'paranoid' and then go on to twist those words to make them appear as if some big political demand was being made.

Yes, I am aggressive towards that kind of attitude, and with reason. The idea that someone can't calmly state their views (which, when you get to the meat of them are actually not even particularly shocking) without being accused of paranoia or meddling is something that I find highly disheartening, and I will - even aggressively - speak against.

Your points, meanwhile, miss the target in exactly the same way as many of the other posters here, and I'm sure I don't know what the entirely irrelevant link about sexual dimorphism was supposed to add to the discussion as it is, by the way, a related but very separate issue to gender which is what the poster wanted to start a conversation about.

The manner in which a view is stated (e.g. calmly) doesn't prevent the view from being scrutinized. The content of the post is a request that attempts to meddle.

I am insecure about things too, yet I will not ask for the game to be adjusted to make me feel better about my life. This should be simple to understand.

Explain to me how it is missing the target.

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Humans are dimorphic. Presumably, the characters are based on humans.

Arguments in favor of the OP seem to adopt a passive aggressive tone in their rebuttal, claiming people are afraid that someone will "take [their] vidjagames away." The reality is that it's people like the OP who are concerned - paranoid even - that their worldview might not be explicitly validated by this game and apparently this is bad.

In reality, the game shouldn't go out of its way to do anything. It would be a slippery slope otherwise. It's equivalent to me asking Double Fine to tone down the handsomeness levels of the characters in the game because I'm insecure about my looks.

Responses that dignify the stance of the OP are equally guilty of pushing an agenda. Not even the weakly stated point "I hope the developers consider this while designing the characters!" is right.

We have no right to meddle in such a way. It's embarrassing because it's obviously for benefits that are beyond the scope of the game, pertaining to politics and the explicit pushing of one particular worldview instead of whatever the creators choose to portray.

I'm sorry, did my replies come across as passive aggressive? My intention was for them to be merely aggressive - not towards the people I'm replying to, mind you, but towards the kind of attitude that labels the perfectly reasonable and mild mannered points raised in the original post and subsequently clarified as 'paranoid' and then go on to twist those words to make them appear as if some big political demand was being made.

Yes, I am aggressive towards that kind of attitude, and with reason. The idea that someone can't calmly state their views (which, when you get to the meat of them are actually not even particularly shocking) without being accused of paranoia or meddling is something that I find highly disheartening, and I will - even aggressively - speak against.

Your points, meanwhile, miss the target in exactly the same way as many of the other posters here, and I'm sure I don't know what the entirely irrelevant link about sexual dimorphism was supposed to add to the discussion as it is, by the way, a related but very separate issue to gender which is what the poster wanted to start a conversation about.

The manner in which a view is stated (e.g. calmly) doesn't prevent the view from being scrutinized. The content of the post is a request that attempts to meddle.

I am insecure about things too, yet I will not ask for the game to be adjusted to make me feel better about my life. This should be simple to understand.

Explain to me how it is missing the target.

It's missing the point because nobody's asking for adjustments. At the very most the OP is saying 'hey, here's some stuff I think about a lot and it might inform how you think about some stuff'. She's not asking for a redesign of the game to make her feel better, she's saying that she thinks the game would just BE outright better if it showed some sensitivity to this issue - not going out of its way to, which is what the accusation is a lot of the time, but just paying attention to it. Just like I don't really go out of my way to look both ways when I cross a street, but I do it, automatically, because I know that in the long run it's going to make my road-crossing experiences better.

In actual fact, what she wants Double Fine to do is what Double Fine is very probably already doing. Let's look at her central statement:

"Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world, and don’t colour it with gender, because gender biases are narrow, frustrating things."

The key bit of this is "pick what feels right for the specific character and their world". What she means when she says not to colour it with gender is that a lot of the time in media you see that because it's a boy they've got to like x, y, z or be like a b and c, and if it's a girl, some other set of criteria. Nobody's denying boys and girls have tendencies, but painting them so broadly is a rather limiting way to make a character, I think anyone would agree. Nobody's asking DF to examine every pixel of Broken age for any mention of anything gender specific and stamp it out. Only a little nuance, that's all.

So I think if the original poster is saying anything, it's 'don't limit yourself by building characters off of broad gender stereotypes, think a bit more deeply about who they are.' I think that's something Tim Schafer has always done, though the original poster might not have known that. I can't think of any earthly reason why someone would think that she was making anything other than a sensible point, with the perspective of personal experience. Specifically, I don't know why anyone would think it was paranoid, or demanding, or meddling or whatever else.

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So what I'm gathering from all of this is...

And then it became a Q&A with surplus :)

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So what I'm gathering from all of this is...

And then it became a Q&A with surplus :)

I don't know why, because I feel like the least qualified person in the world to talk about this and I know there are plenty of other people on the forum who would be much more qualified and better at it who maybe haven't seen it or just don't want to respond or.... well... whatever.

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It's missing the point because nobody's asking for adjustments. At the very most the OP is saying 'hey, here's some stuff I think about a lot and it might inform how you think about some stuff'. She's not asking for a redesign of the game to make her feel better, she's saying that she thinks the game would just BE outright better if it showed some sensitivity to this issue - not going out of its way to, which is what the accusation is a lot of the time, but just paying attention to it. Just like I don't really go out of my way to look both ways when I cross a street, but I do it, automatically, because I know that in the long run it's going to make my road-crossing experiences better.

I'd say that this is rebuttal is just semantics. Fine, she's not asking for adjustments to the game per se, or for them to outright derail the design process ("go out of their way"). But the request is nowhere near as mild as you paint it. This is the original wording of it:

I sorely, sorely hope that this game won’t define the two worlds with traditional narrow gender definitions. I really hope that ‘This feels girly’ and ‘This feels boyish’ are not in any way criteria for what is a good fit for either world. Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world, and don’t colour it with gender, because gender biases are narrow, frustrating things. Not everyone fits those definitions, and the people that don’t are erased, excluded, and at worst forced into a shape they don’t fit. I’d be really sad if this game joined the weight of material which reinforced those perceptions.

The bolded is accusatory of the media at large as well as being a display of the paranoia I was talking about earlier. The idea that people are being erased because of there being "boyish" boys and "girly" girls makes it sound like the OP has a persecution complex. For crying out loud, we're talking about characters with words like "excluded." I'd argue that this is, in reality, simply the OP projecting her insecurities and requesting explicit validation.

In actual fact, what she wants Double Fine to do is what Double Fine is very probably already doing. Let's look at her central statement:

"Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world, and don’t colour it with gender, because gender biases are narrow, frustrating things."

The key bit of this is "pick what feels right for the specific character and their world". What she means when she says not to colour it with gender is that a lot of the time in media you see that because it's a boy they've got to like x, y, z or be like a b and c, and if it's a girl, some other set of criteria. Nobody's denying boys and girls have tendencies, but painting them so broadly is a rather limiting way to make a character, I think anyone would agree. Nobody's asking DF to examine every pixel of Broken age for any mention of anything gender specific and stamp it out. Only a little nuance, that's all.

So I think if the original poster is saying anything, it's 'don't limit yourself by building characters off of broad gender stereotypes, think a bit more deeply about who they are.' I think that's something Tim Schafer has always done, though the original poster might not have known that. I can't think of any earthly reason why someone would think that she was making anything other than a sensible point, with the perspective of personal experience. Specifically, I don't know why anyone would think it was paranoid, or demanding, or meddling or whatever else.

Your interpretation of what's being said is so benign that it begs the question of why there's even a concern at all. For the OP to have posted a thread on this subject, and used words like "concern," "erase," and "exclude," I'd say that the OP made a much stronger statement than you claim. You're really just watering down the actual OP to the point where nothing can be discussed because all the points are so diluted, leaving only things that go without saying, like "don't make the characters one dimensional." I'm pretty sure this thread wasn't made just to say "don't make the characters one dimensional."

Let me add a personal anecdote. I have been partially paralyzed for 6 months now (legs; I am expected to recover fully at some point FYI) - and yet it would be really sad if I made a thread requesting disabled characters to appear in the game. I could say "Not everyone is fully functional! I don't want to meddle, pick what feels right for your world! But don't forget not everyone can walk! It would be really sad if Double Fine added yet another game on the market which isn't cripple-friendly!"

But I won't do that, because that's just an incredibly embarrassing thing to do, and with good reason.

Some food for thought: http://community-sitcom.wikia.com/wiki/Greendale_Human_Being

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So what I'm gathering from all of this is...

And then it became a Q&A with surplus :)

I don't know why, because I feel like the least qualified person in the world to talk about this and I know there are plenty of other people on the forum who would be much more qualified and better at it who maybe haven't seen it or just don't want to respond or.... well... whatever.

Probably reading the responses makes you more qualified than most people here...

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It's missing the point because nobody's asking for adjustments. At the very most the OP is saying 'hey, here's some stuff I think about a lot and it might inform how you think about some stuff'. She's not asking for a redesign of the game to make her feel better, she's saying that she thinks the game would just BE outright better if it showed some sensitivity to this issue - not going out of its way to, which is what the accusation is a lot of the time, but just paying attention to it. Just like I don't really go out of my way to look both ways when I cross a street, but I do it, automatically, because I know that in the long run it's going to make my road-crossing experiences better.

I'd say that this is rebuttal is just semantics. Fine, she's not asking for adjustments to the game per se, or for them to outright derail the design process ("go out of their way"). But the request is nowhere near as mild as you paint it. This is the original wording of it:

I sorely, sorely hope that this game won’t define the two worlds with traditional narrow gender definitions. I really hope that ‘This feels girly’ and ‘This feels boyish’ are not in any way criteria for what is a good fit for either world. Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world, and don’t colour it with gender, because gender biases are narrow, frustrating things. Not everyone fits those definitions, and the people that don’t are erased, excluded, and at worst forced into a shape they don’t fit. I’d be really sad if this game joined the weight of material which reinforced those perceptions.

The bolded is accusatory of the media at large as well as being a display of the paranoia I was talking about earlier. The idea that people are being erased because of there being "boyish" boys and "girly" girls makes it sound like the OP has a persecution complex. For crying out loud, we're talking about characters with words like "excluded." I'd argue that this is, in reality, simply the OP projecting her insecurities and requesting explicit validation.

In actual fact, what she wants Double Fine to do is what Double Fine is very probably already doing. Let's look at her central statement:

"Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world, and don’t colour it with gender, because gender biases are narrow, frustrating things."

The key bit of this is "pick what feels right for the specific character and their world". What she means when she says not to colour it with gender is that a lot of the time in media you see that because it's a boy they've got to like x, y, z or be like a b and c, and if it's a girl, some other set of criteria. Nobody's denying boys and girls have tendencies, but painting them so broadly is a rather limiting way to make a character, I think anyone would agree. Nobody's asking DF to examine every pixel of Broken age for any mention of anything gender specific and stamp it out. Only a little nuance, that's all.

So I think if the original poster is saying anything, it's 'don't limit yourself by building characters off of broad gender stereotypes, think a bit more deeply about who they are.' I think that's something Tim Schafer has always done, though the original poster might not have known that. I can't think of any earthly reason why someone would think that she was making anything other than a sensible point, with the perspective of personal experience. Specifically, I don't know why anyone would think it was paranoid, or demanding, or meddling or whatever else.

Your interpretation of what's being said is so benign that it begs the question of why there's even a concern at all. For the OP to have posted a thread on this subject, and used words like "concern," "erase," and "exclude," I'd say that the OP made a much stronger statement than you claim. You're really just watering down the actual OP.

What universe are you living in where 'concern' 'erase' and 'exclude' are so bold? A concern is just that - someone someone is concerned about. They don't have to be staying awake at night. I'm concerned about train prices, for example, but I'm not really doing much about it except occasionally grumbling, and if they do go up I'll live.

From the perspective of a trans* person I don't think it's much of an exaggeration at all to describe them as feeling erased and excluded by a lot of culture. In fact, the sort of replies here are a perfect example of that - the argument goes that their concerns are just not worthy of consideration, that they are such a minority that any attempt to show any sort of sensitivity can only be 'pandering' as a lot of people call it.

Only the other day a trans* friend of mine was referred to as 'it' repeatedly on stage among other things, and when she spoke up about it she was hounded by death threats and told that if she didn't want to be made fun of then she should just not go to these events. That's the very definition of exclusion.

Now, of course, nobody is saying that therefore this means that all games need to have trans* people in them or be ultra-proactive about to making characters that buck gender trends. But what the OP is fairly humbly asking is that Broken Age not be another example in media of girls and boys being rewarded for fitting very neatly into their stereotyped gender roles, and maybe the characters could be a bit more nuanced than that. As many people later pointed out, they trusted DF not to be so callous with their character designs. The reason that the OP felt the need to bring it up in the first place is that she is part of one of the most excluded (yes, I'll use it too) minorities currently in existence, and felt she could offer some perspective on gender that otherwise might be missed. It's really no biggie.

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It's missing the point because nobody's asking for adjustments. At the very most the OP is saying 'hey, here's some stuff I think about a lot and it might inform how you think about some stuff'. She's not asking for a redesign of the game to make her feel better, she's saying that she thinks the game would just BE outright better if it showed some sensitivity to this issue - not going out of its way to, which is what the accusation is a lot of the time, but just paying attention to it. Just like I don't really go out of my way to look both ways when I cross a street, but I do it, automatically, because I know that in the long run it's going to make my road-crossing experiences better.

I'd say that this is rebuttal is just semantics. Fine, she's not asking for adjustments to the game per se, or for them to outright derail the design process ("go out of their way"). But the request is nowhere near as mild as you paint it. This is the original wording of it:

I sorely, sorely hope that this game won’t define the two worlds with traditional narrow gender definitions. I really hope that ‘This feels girly’ and ‘This feels boyish’ are not in any way criteria for what is a good fit for either world. Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world, and don’t colour it with gender, because gender biases are narrow, frustrating things. Not everyone fits those definitions, and the people that don’t are erased, excluded, and at worst forced into a shape they don’t fit. I’d be really sad if this game joined the weight of material which reinforced those perceptions.

The bolded is accusatory of the media at large as well as being a display of the paranoia I was talking about earlier. The idea that people are being erased because of there being "boyish" boys and "girly" girls makes it sound like the OP has a persecution complex. For crying out loud, we're talking about characters with words like "excluded." I'd argue that this is, in reality, simply the OP projecting her insecurities and requesting explicit validation.

In actual fact, what she wants Double Fine to do is what Double Fine is very probably already doing. Let's look at her central statement:

"Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world, and don’t colour it with gender, because gender biases are narrow, frustrating things."

The key bit of this is "pick what feels right for the specific character and their world". What she means when she says not to colour it with gender is that a lot of the time in media you see that because it's a boy they've got to like x, y, z or be like a b and c, and if it's a girl, some other set of criteria. Nobody's denying boys and girls have tendencies, but painting them so broadly is a rather limiting way to make a character, I think anyone would agree. Nobody's asking DF to examine every pixel of Broken age for any mention of anything gender specific and stamp it out. Only a little nuance, that's all.

So I think if the original poster is saying anything, it's 'don't limit yourself by building characters off of broad gender stereotypes, think a bit more deeply about who they are.' I think that's something Tim Schafer has always done, though the original poster might not have known that. I can't think of any earthly reason why someone would think that she was making anything other than a sensible point, with the perspective of personal experience. Specifically, I don't know why anyone would think it was paranoid, or demanding, or meddling or whatever else.

Your interpretation of what's being said is so benign that it begs the question of why there's even a concern at all. For the OP to have posted a thread on this subject, and used words like "concern," "erase," and "exclude," I'd say that the OP made a much stronger statement than you claim. You're really just watering down the actual OP.

What universe are you living in where 'concern' 'erase' and 'exclude' are so bold? A concern is just that - someone someone is concerned about. They don't have to be staying awake at night. I'm concerned about train prices, for example, but I'm not really doing much about it except occasionally grumbling, and if they do go up I'll live.

From the perspective of a trans* person I don't think it's much of an exaggeration at all to describe them as feeling erased and excluded by a lot of culture. In fact, the sort of replies here are a perfect example of that - the argument goes that their concerns are just not worthy of consideration, that they are such a minority that any attempt to show any sort of sensitivity can only be 'pandering' as a lot of people call it.

Only the other day a trans* friend of mine was referred to as 'it' repeatedly on stage among other things, and when she spoke up about it she was hounded by death threats and told that if she didn't want to be made fun of then she should just not go to these events. That's the very definition of exclusion.

Now, of course, nobody is saying that therefore this means that all games need to have trans* people in them or be ultra-proactive about to making characters that buck gender trends. But what the OP is fairly humbly asking is that Broken Age not be another example in media of girls and boys being rewarded for fitting very neatly into their stereotyped gender roles, and maybe the characters could be a bit more nuanced than that. As many people later pointed out, they trusted DF not to be so callous with their character designs. The reason that the OP felt the need to bring it up in the first place is that she is part of one of the most excluded (yes, I'll use it too) minorities currently in existence, and felt she could offer some perspective on gender that otherwise might be missed. It's really no biggie.

You end on "it's no biggie" but everything before that is seriously a big deal (bolded). Which is it? Is it a biggie or not?

* If it's a big deal, then the request made toward this game is invalid for the multitude of reasons which boil down to - this game is not the vehicle for that. It would mean that this thread is attempting to meddle.

* If it's not a big deal, then your interpretation of the OP is correct. It boils down to "don't make the characters one dimensional" in which case why does this thread exist. Why is there talk of social injustice in a thread that you claim is about a benign argument.

It really looks like there's a huge claim and a strong request made by the OP, but it's later downplayed by its proponents as "not a big deal, just a simple request" to make it seem more reasonable when it's actually a request for the game to validate someone's particular view which it absolutely should not. Ironically, the OP says it would feel "forced" if boys were "boyish" etc - yet this thread is either a request for pandering (this would feel forced) or not a thread at all ("don't make the characters one dimensional is all I'm saying!").

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It's missing the point because nobody's asking for adjustments. At the very most the OP is saying 'hey, here's some stuff I think about a lot and it might inform how you think about some stuff'. She's not asking for a redesign of the game to make her feel better, she's saying that she thinks the game would just BE outright better if it showed some sensitivity to this issue - not going out of its way to, which is what the accusation is a lot of the time, but just paying attention to it. Just like I don't really go out of my way to look both ways when I cross a street, but I do it, automatically, because I know that in the long run it's going to make my road-crossing experiences better.

I'd say that this is rebuttal is just semantics. Fine, she's not asking for adjustments to the game per se, or for them to outright derail the design process ("go out of their way"). But the request is nowhere near as mild as you paint it. This is the original wording of it:

I sorely, sorely hope that this game won’t define the two worlds with traditional narrow gender definitions. I really hope that ‘This feels girly’ and ‘This feels boyish’ are not in any way criteria for what is a good fit for either world. Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world, and don’t colour it with gender, because gender biases are narrow, frustrating things. Not everyone fits those definitions, and the people that don’t are erased, excluded, and at worst forced into a shape they don’t fit. I’d be really sad if this game joined the weight of material which reinforced those perceptions.

The bolded is accusatory of the media at large as well as being a display of the paranoia I was talking about earlier. The idea that people are being erased because of there being "boyish" boys and "girly" girls makes it sound like the OP has a persecution complex. For crying out loud, we're talking about characters with words like "excluded." I'd argue that this is, in reality, simply the OP projecting her insecurities and requesting explicit validation.

In actual fact, what she wants Double Fine to do is what Double Fine is very probably already doing. Let's look at her central statement:

"Pick what feels right for the specific character and their world, and don’t colour it with gender, because gender biases are narrow, frustrating things."

The key bit of this is "pick what feels right for the specific character and their world". What she means when she says not to colour it with gender is that a lot of the time in media you see that because it's a boy they've got to like x, y, z or be like a b and c, and if it's a girl, some other set of criteria. Nobody's denying boys and girls have tendencies, but painting them so broadly is a rather limiting way to make a character, I think anyone would agree. Nobody's asking DF to examine every pixel of Broken age for any mention of anything gender specific and stamp it out. Only a little nuance, that's all.

So I think if the original poster is saying anything, it's 'don't limit yourself by building characters off of broad gender stereotypes, think a bit more deeply about who they are.' I think that's something Tim Schafer has always done, though the original poster might not have known that. I can't think of any earthly reason why someone would think that she was making anything other than a sensible point, with the perspective of personal experience. Specifically, I don't know why anyone would think it was paranoid, or demanding, or meddling or whatever else.

Your interpretation of what's being said is so benign that it begs the question of why there's even a concern at all. For the OP to have posted a thread on this subject, and used words like "concern," "erase," and "exclude," I'd say that the OP made a much stronger statement than you claim. You're really just watering down the actual OP.

What universe are you living in where 'concern' 'erase' and 'exclude' are so bold? A concern is just that - someone someone is concerned about. They don't have to be staying awake at night. I'm concerned about train prices, for example, but I'm not really doing much about it except occasionally grumbling, and if they do go up I'll live.

From the perspective of a trans* person I don't think it's much of an exaggeration at all to describe them as feeling erased and excluded by a lot of culture. In fact, the sort of replies here are a perfect example of that - the argument goes that their concerns are just not worthy of consideration, that they are such a minority that any attempt to show any sort of sensitivity can only be 'pandering' as a lot of people call it.

Only the other day a trans* friend of mine was referred to as 'it' repeatedly on stage among other things, and when she spoke up about it she was hounded by death threats and told that if she didn't want to be made fun of then she should just not go to these events. That's the very definition of exclusion.

Now, of course, nobody is saying that therefore this means that all games need to have trans* people in them or be ultra-proactive about to making characters that buck gender trends. But what the OP is fairly humbly asking is that Broken Age not be another example in media of girls and boys being rewarded for fitting very neatly into their stereotyped gender roles, and maybe the characters could be a bit more nuanced than that. As many people later pointed out, they trusted DF not to be so callous with their character designs. The reason that the OP felt the need to bring it up in the first place is that she is part of one of the most excluded (yes, I'll use it too) minorities currently in existence, and felt she could offer some perspective on gender that otherwise might be missed. It's really no biggie.

You end on "it's no biggie" but everything before that is seriously a big deal (bolded). Which is it? Is it a biggie or not?

* If it's a big deal, then the request made toward this game is invalid for the multitude of reasons which boil down to - this game is not the vehicle for that. It would mean that this thread is attempting to meddle.

* If it's not a big deal, then your interpretation of the OP is correct. It boils down to "don't make the characters one dimensional" in which case why does this thread exist. Why is there talk of social injustice in a thread that you claim is about a benign argument.

It really looks like there's a huge claim and a strong request made by the OP, but it's later downplayed by its proponents as "not a big deal, just a simple request" to make it seem more reasonable when it's actually a request for the game to validate someone's particular view which it absolutely should not. Ironically, the OP says it would feel "forced" if boys were "boyish" etc - yet this thread is either a request for pandering (this would feel forced) or not a thread at all ("don't make the characters one dimensional is all I'm saying!").

Sigh. As much as you would love it if I were contradicting myself I'm afraid you're simply (again) conflating two different things I'm saying.

The first is that the issues that trans* people face are real, and serious, and that media has at least some sort of role to play in it because media in part shapes our culture. And our culture currently is exclusionary whether we like it or not. That's a real issue, it's the 'biggie' bit of it.

But there's good news. It doesn't require a complete upending of everything in media in order to be less exclusionary. It certainly doesn't diminish the artforms in any way or impose restrictions and limits - if anything it provides an opportunity to explore in more detail. All it requires is that people do away with a few assumptions. When I rather glibly said that nobody's trying to take your vidja games away, all I really meant was that it really doesn't ruin anything or even cause any real inconvenience to write better characters and at least avoid unintentionally excluding. It's actually pretty simple - no biggie. A lot of people, like Tim, are pretty much doing it anyway, without even having to think about it.

The important thing about exclusion actually is that most of the time it really is unintentional. That's why people with experience of feeling excluded sometimes feel like they have to draw attention to it. But that doesn't mean that they're asking for the world to be turned upside down.

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When people talk about avoiding the gender binary, they are talking about avoiding things that reinforce stereotypes (by upholding them as ideals or mocking non conformers) . They're not talking about never having characters in the game that conform to those stereotypes. Do you see the difference?

Can you see the difference between a scene where a girl plays with dolls because the girl has tried the alternatives and prefers playing with dolls, and a scene where a girl is playing with dolls because the creator is trying to enforce gender bias?

Without specific state of intent from the artist, no you cannot.

You (not you personally) are the one assigning a political statement to the scene for your own purpose, through your own biases.

secretgenderbiasagenda.jpg

secretgenderbiasagenda.jpg.4205db520f51c

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When people talk about avoiding the gender binary, they are talking about avoiding things that reinforce stereotypes (by upholding them as ideals or mocking non conformers) . They're not talking about never having characters in the game that conform to those stereotypes. Do you see the difference?

Can you see the difference between a scene where a girl plays with dolls because the girl has tried the alternatives and prefers playing with dolls, and a scene where a girl is playing with dolls because the creator is trying to enforce gender bias?

Without specific state of intent from the artist, no you cannot.

You (not you personally) are the one assigning a political statement to the scene for your own purpose, through your own biases.

Well, in that very specific example you gave, no, of course you cannot. But that's not really the point being made either. As I've mentioned quite a lot in this thread it's not about why someone is more or less 'girly' or more or less 'boyish', it's about the context, where there is any.

A girl playing with a bunch of dolls is a pretty meaningless snapshot, gender wise. Lots of girls play with dolls. It doesn't really say anything either way to see a girl playing with dolls, except that it suggests that the girl might be fairly stereotypically 'girlish'.

Nobody disputes this.

But things can happen when this is given a broader context. Let me give a really crude example. Let's say there was a game where you play a girl who collects dolls, dresses them up, etc, etc. And let's say the game rewards you with points and items whenever you successfully dress the girl up in traditional girl colours but punishes you when your doll wears more traditionally masculine clothes. Like I said, really crude example, but now the game is actually sending a message about gender, and the message is: it's good to conform to gender stereotypes and non-conforming will be punished. And so you could see how that might not be a great message.

Now most games don't deal with such simplistic messages of course, but it's very easy for people to inadvertently reinforce certain stereotypes. Like, for example, if a game made a less feminine girl the butt of jokes on account of her perceived lack of femininity, or mocked a male character for acting 'too' feminine (this one happens a lot).

So yeah, it's true that not every snapshot look of a male or female in a game has anything particularly profound to say about gender. But that's not quite the point.

A mature creator will usually listen to such criticisms and improve. To use a different example, when it was suggested to Derek Yu, creator of Spelunky. had it suggested to him that in the original version you were always playing a guy rescuing a damsel in dubious ways (by chucking her about, literally using her as an object) might be seen as misogynistic, he didn't shy away from that. He knows he didn't mean it to be that way, but he's comfortable enough with himself not to get all on the defensive about it and say 'yeah, perhaps that wasn't the best'. He understands that nobody is saying that playing Spelunky is going to cause people to rush out and throw women onto spikes. Rather, he understands that his games don't exist in a vacuum, and as a creator the things he makes are a part of the wider culture. Or, to use his own words: "I don't think it's crazy to say that the "helpless damsel" trope is pervasive and hurtful."

I think more people would benefit from being like Derek Yu - rather than taking every criticism as an attack on their person, and their moral outlook, using it as a chance to reflect.

Of course, in this case it wasn't even criticism in the OP, it was just someone hope that characters wouldn't be completely defined by gender, and I don't think they will be.

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Sigh. As much as you would love it if I were contradicting myself I'm afraid you're simply (again) conflating two different things I'm saying.

The first is that the issues that trans* people face are real, and serious, and that media has at least some sort of role to play in it because media in part shapes our culture. And our culture currently is exclusionary whether we like it or not. That's a real issue, it's the 'biggie' bit of it.

But there's good news. It doesn't require a complete upending of everything in media in order to be less exclusionary. It certainly doesn't diminish the artforms in any way or impose restrictions and limits - if anything it provides an opportunity to explore in more detail. All it requires is that people do away with a few assumptions. When I rather glibly said that nobody's trying to take your vidja games away, all I really meant was that it really doesn't ruin anything or even cause any real inconvenience to write better characters and at least avoid unintentionally excluding. It's actually pretty simple - no biggie. A lot of people, like Tim, are pretty much doing it anyway, without even having to think about it.

The important thing about exclusion actually is that most of the time it really is unintentional. That's why people with experience of feeling excluded sometimes feel like they have to draw attention to it. But that doesn't mean that they're asking for the world to be turned upside down.

I didn't say you were contradicting yourself outright, but you're softening the intensity of the request to give it an air of reason. The reality of the request is that it's a strong one. We're talking about societal issues like people being excluded.

Bolded part: You're saying it's not a restriction and won't ruin the creative process, but I think any kind of explicit request vis-a-vis a societal issue can't be anything other than a political statement. It's saying "make sure you don't offend people like me" - which would be understandable, except it's coming from a place of preemptively being offended. This is the part I really take issue with here.

Anyone can easily do the same. I myself am a minority in several ways and yet I don't want to tell them to explicitly make the game inclusive to me. It would be wrong. I don't want to play that game and I am not a special snowflake whose plight must be reflected by the game. It is doubly wrong if I am "concerned" preemptively that the game "excludes" me - an idea that comes from negative assumptions and persecution complex. It is not a reasonable request.

There's no such thing as being excluded here. This is the key. To act like you're excluded if the characters in a game don't reflect or consider your plight is extremely self-centered. The game's role is not as a vehicle to causes such as this except in the event that the creator decided as such.

"It doesn't require much to implement" and "it is a great opportunity to explore" - but here, you are going with the assumption that it's already conceded that the game needs to implement this. And it doesn't need to, not for the cause of the OP or anyone else. It is not the game's responsibility to do this.

edit: As an aside, my reply to this:

But things can happen when this is given a broader context. Let me give a really crude example. Let’s say there was a game where you play a girl who collects dolls, dresses them up, etc, etc. And let’s say the game rewards you with points and items whenever you successfully dress the girl up in traditional girl colours but punishes you when your doll wears more traditionally masculine clothes. Like I said, really crude example, but now the game is actually sending a message about gender, and the message is: it’s good to conform to gender stereotypes and non-conforming will be punished. And so you could see how that might not be a great message.

There's nothing wrong with the message in your example. What can be considered wrong is the lack of other games which send a message of gender non-conformism being good, as opposed to censoring the message of traditional gender behavior.

It takes all kinds. The OP does not recognize this and thinks her view is objectively superior to the traditional view. But neither is superior and both messages are right.

It's wrong to say "Don't represent boys and girls the traditional way, represent them my way." Maybe the game already does this, and maybe it doesn't. Maybe it's somewhere in between. Who knows. But it's entirely the authors' message to make.

Some games reward you for killing people. Other games penalize you. Diversity is great. Pushing 1 idea as the right answer that everyone must adopt is not.

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Sigh. As much as you would love it if I were contradicting myself I'm afraid you're simply (again) conflating two different things I'm saying.

The first is that the issues that trans* people face are real, and serious, and that media has at least some sort of role to play in it because media in part shapes our culture. And our culture currently is exclusionary whether we like it or not. That's a real issue, it's the 'biggie' bit of it.

But there's good news. It doesn't require a complete upending of everything in media in order to be less exclusionary. It certainly doesn't diminish the artforms in any way or impose restrictions and limits - if anything it provides an opportunity to explore in more detail. All it requires is that people do away with a few assumptions. When I rather glibly said that nobody's trying to take your vidja games away, all I really meant was that it really doesn't ruin anything or even cause any real inconvenience to write better characters and at least avoid unintentionally excluding. It's actually pretty simple - no biggie. A lot of people, like Tim, are pretty much doing it anyway, without even having to think about it.

The important thing about exclusion actually is that most of the time it really is unintentional. That's why people with experience of feeling excluded sometimes feel like they have to draw attention to it. But that doesn't mean that they're asking for the world to be turned upside down.

I didn't say you were contradicting yourself outright, but you're softening the intensity of the request to give it an air of reason. The reality of the request is that it's a strong one. We're talking about societal issues like people being excluded.

Bolded part: You're saying it's not a restriction and won't ruin the creative process, but I think any kind of explicit request vis-a-vis a societal issue can't be anything other than a political statement. It's saying "make sure you don't offend people like me" - which would be understandable, except it's coming from a place of preemptively being offended. This is the part I really take issue with here.

Anyone can easily do the same. I myself am a minority in several ways and yet I don't want to tell them to explicitly make the game inclusive to me. It would be wrong. I don't want to play that game and I am not a special snowflake whose plight must be reflected by the game. It is doubly wrong if I am "concerned" preemptively that the game "excludes" me - an idea that comes from negative assumptions and persecution complex. It is not a reasonable request.

There's no such thing as being excluded here. This is the key. To act like you're excluded if the characters in a game don't reflect or consider your plight is extremely self-centered. Their role is not as a vehicle to causes such as this except in the event that the creator decided as such.

"It doesn't require much to implement" and "it is a great opportunity to explore" - but here, you are going with the assumption that it's already conceded that the game needs to implement this. And it doesn't need to, not for the cause of the OP or anyone else.

Eh, you're just wrong about that. That's all I can say really. You think that exclusion has to have intent behind it and as long as people mean well then they shouldn't have to think any further than that. But the fact is that culture is exclusionary in a myriad ways, ways that are invisible to most people but obvious to those being excluded. Just because you can't see it doesn't make it any less of a real thing. As for Broken Age, I don't think it will be exclusionary in any significant way, incident.

But as to your other point about being preemptively offended and what the game needs or doesn't need to do... look, the creators of a game can do whatever the he'll they like. They're free. But other people are also free to call them out when they make decisions which, intentionally or not, exclude a particular group in a way that stands out to them, or portrays them in a negative light.

The reason that some people might feel the need to preempt this is that because of how culture is, these problems are sometimes invisible to people who aren't on the receiving end. But that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't worth paying attention to. Like in my games, I've realised that I have a tendency to write male characters by "default", and I only realised this when someone pointed out to me that a game only had males in it. This doesn't mean that now I force characters to be female when I really think of them as male. But now I'm aware that this is something I do, I certainly consider what a character might be like female, how they might be the same, how they might be different if at all, and sometimes that takes my characters off in interesting directions I hadn't considered before. Sure there's a slight change to my creative process - in that now it's a little richer.

So it's less a case of preemptively being offended. It's more like: "you might not have thought about this stuff. I think about it all the time, because of who I am. I'd like it if you could give it some thought because I think that it'll help make characters that are better." And finally let's not forget that the goal here is not really, as you put it, not being offended. The OP is coming from a position of feeling excluded from a lot of culture but her real desire, as she puts quite clearly, is for the characters to not be defined by their gender stereotype, it shouldn't be used as a sort of sloppy shorthand in place of genuine character. Which I really think is something we can all agree with, and can trust Tim with, but a lot of games remain pretty bad at. I guess that's why she wanted to bring it up, rather than some paranoid desire not to be offended.

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Eh, you're just wrong about that. That's all I can say really. You think that exclusion has to have intent behind it and as long as people mean well then they shouldn't have to think any further than that. But the fact is that culture is exclusionary in a myriad ways, ways that are invisible to most people but obvious to those being excluded. Just because you can't see it doesn't make it any less of a real thing. As for Broken Age, I don't think it will be exclusionary in any significant way, incident.

I'm not referring to the intent behind it. Rather, I'm saying that you don't have a right to demand to be represented in everything. In fact I can't even think of 1 game that represents people like me at all. I don't think any exist. And that is fine. It's not their job to accommodate my insecurities or "deliver social justice," period.

Your claim that I can't see it is pretty condescending. I can see it and experience it daily. I just think it would shameful to expect everyone to get with the program of only sending messages that reinforce my worldview.

Ironically, OP needs to open her mind that other worldviews continue to exist and be represented despite her plight and this is not something you can be "concerned" about or feel "excluded" from.

But as to your other point about being preemptively offended and what the game needs or doesn't need to do... look, the creators of a game can do whatever the he'll they like. They're free. But other people are also free to call them out when they make decisions which, intentionally or not, exclude a particular group in a way that stands out to them, or portrays them in a negative light.

The reason that some people might feel the need to preempt this is that because of how culture is, these problems are sometimes invisible to people who aren't on the receiving end. But that doesn't necessarily mean they aren't worth paying attention to. Like in my games, I've realised that I have a tendency to write male characters by "default", and I only realised this when someone pointed out to me that a game only had males in it. This doesn't mean that now I force characters to be female when I really think of them as male. But now I'm aware that this is something I do, I certainly consider what a character might be like female, how they might be the same, how they might be different if at all, and sometimes that takes my characters off in interesting directions I hadn't considered before. Sure there's a slight change to my creative process - in that now it's a little richer.

So it's less a case of preemptively being offended. It's more like: "you might not have thought about this stuff. I think about it all the time, because of who I am. I'd like it if you could give it some thought because I think that it'll help make characters that are better." And finally let's not forget that the goal here is not really, as you put it, not being offended. The OP is coming from a position of feeling excluded from a lot of culture but her real desire, as she puts quite clearly, is for the characters to not be defined by their gender stereotype, it shouldn't be used as a sort of sloppy shorthand in place of genuine character. Which I really think is something we can all agree with, and can trust Tim with, but a lot of games remain pretty bad at. I guess that's why she wanted to bring it up, rather than some paranoid desire not to be offended.

This is all well and good, but the OP comes off much more presumptive and ironically prejudiced about the game design with a slew of negative assumptions.

Assumptions by the OP:

- Traditional portrayal of genders is the same as being negative towards transgender people. No, it's not. Stop being paranoid.

- Transgender people would be somehow excluded if the characters don't consider a broader spectrum of gender definitions. You are not in the game. The game is not about you or me. You cannot be excluded from something that you are not in.

- The game shouldn't reward a boy for being boyish or a girl for being girlish. This is not something that can be requested. Maybe they're going for a fairytale aesthetic where this would be the norm. Maybe gender reinforcement is part of the game world. You have no idea and can't make such a firm statement. The specificity of this request comes off more as an assumption that it is objectively bad to reinforce gender roles. It is not as objective as OP suggests, that is simply your worldview.

The premise of this thread has quite a few presumptions of persecution presented as an objective truth. The core of the OP's argument denies the existence of other worldviews that may not jive with her own.

PS- the transgender person you mentioned earlier, who was allegedly called "it" at that recent event, may have ended up being a liar (I think this may be who you were talking about). Check the thread over on NeoGAF if you're interested.

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You really seem to be mischaracterising the argument being made.

Assumptions by the OP:

- Traditional portrayal of genders is the same as being negative towards transgender people. No, it's not. Stop being paranoid.

Not the point being made at all. Nowhere is that even implied, that's entirely what you've read in. At the very most she says that when characters are defined by their gender, that's a narrow way of writing that can leave people feeling excluded.

- Transgender people would be somehow excluded if the characters don't consider a broader spectrum of gender definitions. You are not in the game. The game is not about you or me. You cannot be excluded from something that you are not in.

Again, she doesn't ask for transgender people to be put into the game, or even for a broader spectrum of gender definitions to be in the game (indeed she doesn't even mention her own identity until the very end of the post). She only says words to the effect that she hopes the boy and girl's world won't be ruled by gender stereotypes which are never challenged or questioned. This is because when games have characters with a very narrow view of (for example) 'this is what girls are or should be like' that feels exclusionary, yes, but also is just arguably poor writing, in the majority of cases.

- The game shouldn't reward a boy for being boyish or a girl for being girlish. This is not something that can be requested. Maybe they're going for a fairytale aesthetic where this would be the norm. Maybe gender reinforcement is part of the game world. You have no idea and can't make such a firm statement. The specificity of this request comes off more as an assumption that it is objectively bad to reinforce gender roles. It is not as objective as OP suggests, that is simply your worldview.

One thing that a lot of people are doing on this thread is confusing content with context. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that would indeed be a bad message most of the time and one I'd be happy to call a game out for. That's not to say a game can't have examples in it of gender roles being reinforced without that being a problem. For example, it looks like in Broken Age the girls are expected to be a good little girl and pretty themselves up for their impending sacrifice and never question that. If the game had nothing to say in response to that, I would be rightly concerned about that, I think! Even in a less extreme example that didn't end in sacrifice, I would be inclined to raise eyebrows at a game that placed women in such a subservient role while doing nothing to question that, but in the end it's all about context.

Content, context - two different things, and whenever someone is making an argument for the context within which something is portrayed, you characterise it as something more concrete, as if the person is making some demands on what sort of characters are allowed to be in the game, when that's really a completely different thing.

PS- the transgender person you mentioned earlier, who was allegedly called "it" at that recent event, may have ended up being a liar (I think this may be who you were talking about). Check the thread over on NeoGAF if you're interested.

As I said, I know her personally. She's not a close friend, but I know enough of her to know that she receives more than enough genuine abuse to invite more of it by inventing some story about discrimination. I've not known her to be dishonest, in fact she's honest to the point of self deprecation most if the time. There's no earthly reason why she'd want to lie when and transgender person could tell you that they have an overflowing well of real examples to draw from if they wanted to. I'm frankly surprised she's been THIS quiet about her daily problems for so long, it actually shows an amount of inner strength that she'd never admit to. Let's just leave it there, shall we?

EDIT: It seems that in fact there was some misunderstanding on both sides, and that both have now apologised - nevertheless, I stick by the general point that there was wrongdoing on that stage (whether the word 'it' was said or not) and that the person in question believed that they were giving an accurate account when they gave it, and immediately retracted any inaccuracies that were pointed out.

--

Anyway I think the main difference between how we see the OP is that I came away from that post with the understanding that she'd be perfectly happy with a game that didn't unduly reinforce gender stereotypes without questioning them, and had characters which were more interesting than simple caricatures of their gender. Which as far as I can see is what we're getting, anyway (but the OP had no reason to know in advance, especially if unfamiliar with Tim's earlier work). You seem to have read all these extra things into it which, as nearly as I can tell, simply aren't there and just seem to be the result of some sort of allergic reaction you've had to someone talking about 'issues'.

You're also quite right when you point out that it's entirely the creator's decision to make. Sure. But that doesn't mean that they are immune from criticism about their decisions, and it doesn't mean someone can't, in a forum post, pre-emptively express a desire to see a bit more nuance in character design than they might be used to in most video games. The creators are free to think about it or ignore it or decide they were already doing it anyway, as suits them, but the world isn't made worse by someone saying 'here's my perspective, I'd like you to think about it.' They're not obligated to, but in my own personal experience (such as, but not limited to, my example about trying not to automatically think of all my game characters as male), it very often leads to good things.

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Anyway I think the main difference between how we see the OP is that I came away from that post with the understanding that she'd be perfectly happy with a game that didn't unduly reinforce gender stereotypes without questioning them, and had characters which were more interesting than simple caricatures of their gender. Which as far as I can see is what we're getting, anyway (but the OP had no reason to know in advance, especially if unfamiliar with Tim's earlier work). You seem to have read all these extra things into it which, as nearly as I can tell, simply aren't there and just seem to be the result of some sort of allergic reaction you've had to someone talking about 'issues'.

You are acting like it's the game's responsibility to question them. It may or may not. It's not anyone's prerogative but the creators'. They are beyond being criticized preemptively for perceived slights which might actually not be slights at all, but simply a different choice of what to represent. I'm definitely allergic to the injection of social issues into someone else's creative process and the message it may or may not send, especially being concerned that the message it sends isn't consistent with OP's worldview, as though OP's view were objectively superior in a fashion that is mutually exclusive with the alternative. It comes off as "PC police" behavior, even if worded mildly.

Not the point being made at all. Nowhere is that even implied, that’s entirely what you’ve read in. At the very most she says that when characters are defined by their gender, that’s a narrow way of writing that can leave people feeling excluded. .

i.e. negative towards transgendered people.

gender stereotypes which are never challenged or questioned. This is because when games have characters with a very narrow view of (for example) ‘this is what girls are or should be like’ that feels exclusionary, yes, but also is just arguably poor writing, in the majority of cases.

It's not the game's responsibility to address this. It is not necessarily objectively "worse" despite OP thinking so.

I’m going to go out on a limb and say that would indeed be a bad message most of the time and one I’d be happy to call a game out for. That’s not to say a game can’t have examples in it of gender roles being reinforced without that being a problem.

It is unreasonable to suggest that other game creators agree with you. Maybe they do, but it's not anyone's right to tell them that they should.

I think we're going in circles here and restating our points. We simply cannot agree on the core of the issue, so let's at least agree to disagree.

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Anyway I think the main difference between how we see the OP is that I came away from that post with the understanding that she'd be perfectly happy with a game that didn't unduly reinforce gender stereotypes without questioning them, and had characters which were more interesting than simple caricatures of their gender. Which as far as I can see is what we're getting, anyway (but the OP had no reason to know in advance, especially if unfamiliar with Tim's earlier work). You seem to have read all these extra things into it which, as nearly as I can tell, simply aren't there and just seem to be the result of some sort of allergic reaction you've had to someone talking about 'issues'.

You are acting like it's the game's responsibility to question them. It may or may not. It's not anyone's prerogative but the creators'. I'm definitely allergic to the injection of social issues into someone else's creative process and the message it may or may not send, especially being concerned that the message it sends isn't consistent with OP's worldview as though it were objectively superior in a mutually exclusive fashion. It comes off as "PC police" behavior, even if worded mildly.

I think we're going in circles here and restating our points. We simply cannot agree on the core of the issue, so let's at least agree to disagree.

Well, it really depends on what you mean. Here's what I believe, put as simply as I can:

1) Creators are free to put what they like in their games.

2) But, they do so with the understanding that their creations don't exist in a vacuum, but are part of and help create the culture in which they exist.

3) This means that even if a creator feels they have no direct responsibility to their culture, they impact on it in small ways whether they mean to or not.

4) I think, generally speaking, it does very little harm for a creator to take 3) into consideration when thinking about how they contextualise the content of their games - so that at least they can avoid sending messages that they didn't mean to (like my old habit of 'forgetting' to put women in my games, or only having them as peripheral characters). I don't view that as onerously PC.

5) Sure, they don't HAVE to, but from reading interviews, talking to other designers, etc, I tend to find that all the ones that I have respect for are either doing it already, or react well to criticisms of their work when perhaps they're not doing it. And I don't feel like their work is being diminished or watered down in some way, in fact in many cases quite the opposite.

And finally,

6) Even where a game does have some issue or other, that isn't an indictment of the whole work. It's possible to enjoy a game greatly while acknowledging a few problematic aspects. And nobody expects anyone to be perfect. I'm not a sourpuss out to spoil everyone's party and I have a sense of humour about this, even if it can frustrate me.

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4) I think, generally speaking, it does very little harm for a creator to take 3) into consideration when thinking about how they contextualise the content of their games - so that at least they can avoid sending messages that they didn't mean to (like my old habit of 'forgetting' to put women in my games, or only having them as peripheral characters). I don't view that as onerously PC.

5) Sure, they don't HAVE to, but from reading interviews, talking to other designers, etc, I tend to find that all the ones that I have respect for are either doing it already, or react well to criticisms of their work when perhaps they're not doing it. And I don't feel like their work is being diminished or watered down in some way, in fact in many cases quite the opposite.

This, at least, answers a lot of questions for me. I disagree on these points but they provide me a better understanding of where you are coming from. It also helps me understand where and where not I can expect further discussion to go.

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