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Archive => Indie Game Design => Topic started by: Clay on July 22, 2001, 12:36:00 PM



Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Clay on July 22, 2001, 12:36:00 PM
I'm interested in taking up this thread about how women are depicted in gaming.  In particular, I want to assert that it may at times be appropriate to show some cheesecake.

1. Some women (and men) are quite capable of exercising power through their sexuality.  Think of Madame Mertuile from Dangerous Liasons as a fictional example, or Mata Harri for a historical example.

2. Appealing to the fantasies of gamers is not only acceptable, but essential to the concept of gaming--we don't game to portray Bob (or Julie) the Janitor, after all.

3. Stocking books with pictures of ugly people isn't going to do anything for sales.

4. I personally take offense to the idea that it's unrealistic or unflattering to portray large breasted, well-armed women as sensual.  The world is full of bossomy women and women who are well armed.  I can not only produce examples of both varieties, but the confluence of the two attributes.  I can also produce the men (all gamers) who can speak to the sensuality and sexual approachability of these women.

5. In the event that I ever get my own game to the point that I can use some art, I hope to illustrate it with photographs of the women mentioned in item 4 above.

_________________
Clay Dowling
Lazarus Internet Development
http://www.obrienscafe.com

[ This Message was edited by: Clay on 2001-07-22 16:41 ]


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Damocles on July 22, 2001, 01:21:00 PM
If I were to discuss this with you, is there any chance that anything anybody might say could change your mind on any part of your position in the slightest?
I am asking because, from the above post, I am getting the strong impression that this is not the case. If so, I would not see a point in waste my and your time.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: greyorm on July 22, 2001, 02:24:00 PM
Quote

If I were to discuss this with you, is there any chance that anything anybody might say could change your mind on any part of your position in the slightest?

The only way to change someone's mind is to present your case, and then you'll only be able to do so if it is a good case.
Painting someone out to be a fanatic because they've stated their beliefs with conviction is simply ridiculous.  You're being unfairly judgemental, as if worthwhile discussion can only occur with someone who isn't certain where they stand.

Honestly, if the above is the way you feel, why say anything at all?  It's a jab; it's essentially, "I disagree, but you might be a fanatic, so I won't waste my time besides saying I disagree.  (Ha-ha, neener!  Deal with that!)"

If you can't speak out on your reasons for your position, don't bother speaking out at all.  Either present your case or just don't say anything, because no one can respond to "You're wrong."  "Why?"  "I won't discuss it, you just are."  There is no socially polite in-between for this situation.

And conversely, if you want others to be open to changing their minds based on your presentation, you had best be willing to have your mind changed as well.

So, in my case, what would convince me would be hard, solid, scientific evidence based on a variety of reputable studies that explains why and how your position is accurate, and also equally and accurately explains my own experiences with the issue (as detailed in the other thread) without belittlement or legedermain of those experiences.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Clay on July 22, 2001, 03:14:00 PM
It isn't entirely untrue to say that I'm a fanatic, since I intend to marry one of the women that I described.

That said, I am really interested in hearing an argument that can successfully refute the first four of my points.  It's also worth pointing out that I'm not necessarily supporting cheesecake for the sake of cheesecake.  But I do appreciate the art of Raphael Vargas, Boris Valejo, Julie Bell and other fantasy artists who seem to have captured what it is about the human form that intrigues us.  To put it more plainly, I like the photography in Playboy, and don't care for Penthouse.



[ This Message was edited by: Clay on 2001-07-22 19:24 ]


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: James V. West on July 22, 2001, 04:44:00 PM
This is a topic that gets heated up fast, but maybe we can all handle it like adults.

I understand your position. I agree with some of what you say. For example, I love the art of Luis Royo. Its very cheesecake, but very evocative of passion, of fantasy, of horror...etc..

In most rpgs, a woman without the proper weaponry wouldn't get far. Neither would a guy. Thus the "well-armed" part. The big-breasted part is a totally different story. That's purely cosmetic. In reality, women come in all shapes and sizes. But a fantasy game is not reality. You don't HAVE to depict people realistically in the art, nor in the rules. So, for my 2 cents, do what you want. Make a total cheesecake rpg if you like. Nothing wrong with it.

I do disagree with you about the idea that "filling a book with ugly people won't sell games". First of all, not everyone finds the same things appealing. Thus, a picture of a warrior woman weighing 150 lbs (and not all in muscle) would be very appealing to some. Empowering to others.

I'm a guy. I buy games (occasionally). I like ALL types of fantasy art, and all types of fantasy-art women included. I would actually be impressed as hell with a game that had the fortitude to depict non-supermodel looking women.

Now, I'm not railing against your claims. Like I said, do what you like. We all will anyway. I'd probably even look at your game and enjoy it. But if it really did look like Playboy models with swords and guns, I'd cringe a little and put it back. Its just not my taste.

The bottom line is, sexist depictions of women, especially in the fantasy arena (games, comix, movies) are overdone. They are often done with no more passion or reason than "put a chick there, it'll sell". That aspect of it disgusts me.

But you can like cheesecake, draw it, support it. Its all cool. No problem. I think what most people have a problem with is that many people use sex to sell, and they don't recognize, or refuse to accept, that they are indeed perpetuating a dangerous social imbalance.

But like I said, I like Luis Royo.

James V. West

P.S. jeesh this sounded rantish, didn't it? sorry about that.





Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Jack Spencer Jr on July 22, 2001, 08:33:00 PM
cheesecake, and beefcake can be a useful tool in gaming marketing or in just the game in general...if it's appropriate.

Somehow I'm reminded of something Roger Ebert said about the movie Erin Brockovich.  SOmething to the effect of with what Julia Roberts is wearing, the last thing on his mind was tainted water.

I saw the movie and while I did indeed notice Julia's rack, I liked the movie because of the story it told.

There's this thing called taste.  A little done right is OK.  But too much or just a little done wrong is cheesy.  The secret is know how much is too much.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Uncle Dark on July 23, 2001, 12:11:00 AM
The thing about  Erin Brockovich it that the real life E.B. dressed that way.  It was a realism thing, not a cheesecake thing.

Clay-

Let me start off by saying I share your enthusiasm for well armed and well endowed women, in real life or fantasy.

While there are those who would rail against the art you mention just 'cause it's there, they are actually a (very) vocal minority among those who seriously think about critiques of the representation of women in commercial art (gaming or otherwise).  Most of us (by "us," I generally mean feminists) would not want to ban such art.  Hell, many of us enjoy it as much as the next sexually-attracted-to-women person.

That said, I would respond to all the points you intially raised with two of my own:

1) While I do not think that presenting women in fantasy art as buxom and powerful is demeaning or unrealistic, I do think that populating an entire world (or game) with only women who are both is unrealistic and exclusionary.   Where are the short, the scarred, the deformed?  Oh, I forgot - they get to be evil, the bad guys everyone wants dead.

The demeaning part comes in when you look at the subtext implied by limiting portrayals of women to only the sexy ones: You're only worth looking at if you look like this.  It isn't nescesarily demeaning to the women who really look like this, ibut it can be a subtle (and usually unintended) insult to the women who don't.

2) Setting aside for the moment the question of what such a limited protrayal of women says about our society and what we value in women, what does it say about the female characters in the game and what players of the game are expected to value about them?

After all, one of the reasons why art is included in games is to convey a visual sense of the setting and the situations to be expected.  If the heroines are big-breasted (usually) white women, and the young girls, old women, and not-quite-centerfold-material women are almost always victims, comic relief, or villians, what does that say about the game and the way the producers of that game feel about women?  What expectations about how women are treated in the game does it set up?

Granted, most adult (in age and in emotion) role-players aren't going to be brainwashed by the art in the manual.  But an informal survey of female role-players would (if it matches the sample of female gamers I know) probably turn up a disturbing number whose characters had bad experiences with the characters of male gamers who were perfect gentlemen in real life.  They must have gotten the idea that such behavior was acceptable of their characters somewhere.

Lon


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: contracycle on July 23, 2001, 12:32:00 AM
Right, taking these points one by one:

> 1. Some women (and men) are quite capable of exercising
> power through their sexuality. Think of Madame Mertuile
> from Dangerous Liasons as a fictional example, or Mata
> Harri for a historical example.

http://writetools.com/women/stories/mata_hari.html

Did Mata Hari exercise and exploit her sexuality becuase she CHOSE to, or becuase doing so was one of the few "valid" ways a woman could behave in a patriarchal society?  Thus, I consider the question mis-posed.

That said, Feminism is NOT a critiquer of exploitation of sex and sex appeal by women; it is a critique of the FREQUENCY that this is considered important (in circusmtances where it is usually irrelevant) in male-dominated society, and the relegation of women (such as Mata Hari) to a primarily sexual role.

> 2. Appealing to the fantasies of gamers is not only
> acceptable, but essential to the concept of gaming--we

It is most certainly not central to gaming; a fgame is an exchange, usually formalised, of action and response, and nothing about its nature suggests that it should be fantastic.  We usually address the sub-genre of "fantasy gaming", however, and it might be argued that some element of fantasy is obligatory.  True, but why should it be MALE fantasies, ane better, male fantasies about women?  If this is an attempt at fantasy for all, then why does so much of the art speak directly to male fantasy alone?  And why would, for example, the fantasy of experiencing a world in which you are MOT judged primarily by sexual grounds not be a legitimate fantasy for a female gamer?

Conflating "cheesecake" and "fantasy" does not get us very far.  The question remains: why this TYPE of fanatasy.

> don't game to portray Bob (or Julie) the Janitor, after
> all.

I bet if we did, Julie would have a more revealing janitors uniform than Bob.

> 3. Stocking books with pictures of ugly people isn't
> going to do anything for sales.

Really?  I have seen thousands of ugly men in RPG books.  Scarred, pimply, missing teeth, corrupted by Ancient Evil, mutated by Things Man Was Not Meant To Know... RPG's are full of ugly people - just male ones.  This is becuase the male role is not seen as beeing primarily sexual; men are introduced for all sorts of reasons, but women largely as objects of male sexual fantasy.  So we return to the original question: why is this double standard applied?

> 4. I personally take offense to the idea that it's
> unrealistic or unflattering to portray large breasted,
> well-armed women as sensual. The world is full of bossomy

That is a misrepresentation of the point.  The criticism is that when this is the DOMINANT form of the protrayal of women, it expresses a profoundly unhealthy, oppressive form of social behaviour.

> attributes. I can also produce the men (all gamers) who
> can speak to the sensuality and sexual approachability of > these women.

That is hardly surprising.  But then it would also be hardly surprising if this hobby failed to attract female players in any significant proportion, if you are comfortable with RPG's having as part of their function an appeal to the sexual proclivities of these male gamers.  After all, you can purchaxse the cunninglyu-named Swank Mag from the top shelf, why do these sorts of depictions need to appear in a hobby game?

> 5. In the event that I ever get my own game to the point > that I can use some art, I hope to illustrate it with
> photographs of the women mentioned in item 4 above.

In which case it is unlikely I shall purchase it.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: contracycle on July 23, 2001, 12:40:00 AM
> The only way to change someone's mind is to present your > case, and then you'll only be able to do so if it is a
> good case.

Indeed.  The feminist case has been put in manymmedia and fora; "The Femal Eunuch" by Germaine Greer still being an excellent analysis of the oppression of female gender and sexuality.

> Painting someone out to be a fanatic because they've
> stated their beliefs with conviction is simply

It is a valid question.  I think if myself as taking a risk presenting this argument - I am likely to be accused of "political correctness gone maaaaaaaad" (Spitting Image), a critique I consider both an ad hominem and terribly ill informed.  But we shall soldier on.

> And conversely, if you want others to be open to changing > their minds based on your presentation, you had best be
> willing to have your mind changed as well.

In my experience, those who who object to attempts to rectify the clear and apparent gender balance in our society have already abandonded the evidence route - there is plenty of compelling information available - I was won to the argument myself, after all.

> So, in my case, what would convince me would be hard,
> solid, scientific evidence based on a variety of
> reputable studies that explains why and how your position

Well, depends what we class as reputable.  Have you ever read any of the feminist critique, by feminist authors?



Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Fletch on July 23, 2001, 06:21:00 AM
It is most certainly not central to gaming; a game is an exchange, usually formalised, of action and response, and nothing about its nature suggests that it should be fantastic.

You're right, nothing about games innately requires them to have anything to do with "the fantastic", BUT in practice those games which deal with "the fantastic" are far more widely played and far more commerically successful than those which don't. (ie: Cyberpunk 2020 vs. Shadowrun, Boot Hill vs. Deadlands, L5R vs. Sengoku)and therefore more germane to this discussion.

True, but why should it be MALE fantasies, and better, male fantasies about women?  If this is an attempt at fantasy for all, then why does so much of the art speak directly to male fantasy alone?

Because this is primarily a male dominated hobby and publishers are going to create a product aimed at their primary audience. But even games with a higher percentage of female players (esp Vampire) contain a large volume of artwork of "sensual" portrayals of women, so it would appear that those offended by that sort of artwork are an extremely small group.

 And why would, for example, the fantasy of experiencing a world in which you are NOT judged primarily by sexual grounds not be a legitimate fantasy for a female gamer?

It would be completely legitimate, and I can't imagine anyone arguing otherwise. But based on the buying habits of both men and women currently in the hobby, I doubt such a game based on such a premise would sell terribly well.

Conflating "cheesecake" and "fantasy" does not get us very far.  The question remains: why this TYPE of fanatasy.

And the answer remains: because people BUY it. The artwork will change just a soon as changing it will make a difference to a company's profits.

Fletch


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: GreatWolf on July 23, 2001, 08:37:00 AM
Quote

Conflating "cheesecake" and "fantasy" does not get us very far. The question remains: why this TYPE of fanatasy.

And the answer remains: because people BUY it. The artwork will change just a soon as changing it will make a difference to a company's profits.


However, should we be driven merely by the bottom line?  Aren't there moral and ethical considerations that take precedence?  I certainly agree that "people buy it" is the reason that cheesecake is used in many RPGs, but is that a good enough reason?

I think that we have a responsibility to evaluate these matters with a critical eye.  The indie RPG movement especially has no excuse for adopting the commercial behavior of the larger companies.  For example, we lambast companies like White Wolf or Pinnacle for their metaplots.  Why do these companies (and others) include these metaplots?  Because people buy them.  However, this argument has failed to satisfy many people, especially those here at the Forge.  Why is that?  Quite simply, there are certain principles that we see being violated by these metaplots.  Are there no principles at stake here?



Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: joshua neff on July 23, 2001, 09:11:00 AM
Quote
Conflating "cheesecake" and "fantasy" does not get us very far. The question remains: why this TYPE of fanatasy. And the answer remains: because people BUY it. The artwork will change just a soon as changing it will make a difference to a company's profits.


Here's what's problematic with that: the profits (& demographics that are the source of those profits) are unlikely to change much until the attitude & art changes, because the same "cheesecake-lovin'" people will continue to buy the games, & people who might otherwise be interested in RPGs, but are turned off by the amazons-in-chainmail-bikinis, will continue to stay away.

Personally, I will avoid a game that has lots of cheesecake art. As Lon said, I like "sexy" women as much as the next guy (although chesty women in chainmain bikinis is pretty far from my definition of sexy). But it symbolizes an attitude that I find pretty abhorent, & I do feel it marginalizes women who don't look like that (& men & women who aren't into that kind of art). I avoid beefcake art for the same reason.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 23, 2001, 09:25:00 AM
Hello,

Warning: the following point is guaranteed to annoy.

Ethics are not policies. Ethics are about what *I* am going to do, or do habitually. Policies (and politics, the making of policy) are about what *others,* that is , *groups* are enforced to do.

So. If this thread is about ethics, then we can each take a little card and write down (1) what games I will buy based on their art/etc, and (2) what art/etc I will publish (should I ever) in an RPG. Then we will all have our little cards and show them to one another.

If, however, this thread is about politics, or some kind of RPG policy to be shared among us, then I have to ask, "Who is 'us'?" We are not a company, a government, a special-interest group, or frankly, anything but a bunch of hobbyists.

Even if, here on this forum, an amazing thing happens and we come up with a policy to adopt about "how to depict women in our games," so what? It's not enforced on anyone else. There is no actual "body politic" upon which it is activated. It would remain an expression of an individual ethic which (in this mythical instance) was shared among several people.

I do think each of us has to make some choices about what to depict in the games we publish and what to publish ourselves. I don't think we should make the mistake on inflating our views into policy-level pronouncements, and even worse, debating the matter as if we were setting policy.

On the first thread about these matters, I asked where the big "should" was coming from. "Should" women be drawn like this in games. "Should" we buy such a game. And so on.

My claim is that, in this case, the "should" remains an expression of a personal ethic. As there is neither body politic, economic control, nor any means of enforcement, it cannot be considered a transitive, policy-level "should."

Best,
Ron

P.S. My above argument cannot be analogized to issues that ARE at the "body politic" level. For instance, a person who claims that policies regarding prosecuting crimes of rape is "an individual ethic" is a moron. I'd appreciate it if no one were to ascribe such a view to me.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Dav on July 23, 2001, 10:41:00 AM
Echoing the opinions of others, I am asking if this thread is about a) what art sells best (and under what circumstances) or b) what art is the "ethical high-ground"?  We all know what the high-ground is, even if we don't like to admit it.  

However, while cheesecake art may help sell product, I am interested to know if lack of cheesecake art will have any perceived impact on the sales of the same game.  Is cheesecake art a general want/need for marketing, or is it as justifiably appropriate as other art in terms of a business persepctive.  I admit to a lack of interest on a personal level regarding art.  The walls of my apartment are white and I like it that way.  Just my opinion, and I know it won't fly in a design sense for RPGs, so Obsidian is chock-full of art.

However, aside from the beautiful cover that ideally depicts both male and female overtones (if not the figures themselves) with a full-color, high gloss quality, what else is needed inside?  Covers sell books.  Yes.  But does interior art do anything pro or con for sales?  And keep in mind, that, with the consumer pool being a conglomerate of both distributor *and* end consumer (as most sell to both on a direct basis nowadays), does the art of a game help one or both of these market segments?

My position, as if you asked, is that interior art sells to the end consumer, whereas the cover sells to both (but primarily the distributor).  Interior cheesecake art does support a "geek-culture" trend in gaming, but as business people (as you are when you have a product to market and sell, no matter what your position during the creation process), that geek-culture helps lend reliability to a very hit-or-miss industry.  

Ethically (and basing business ethic on the maxim of "it is the ethical position of any business to increase profits"), it is apporpriate to have some mixture of cheesecake to action to pinup art within a RPG book.  That is where it stands.  This bases itself on the realization that a) I have never encountered people that don't buy the book based on art that is "cheesecake" (more later), b) I have seen people not buy books due to lack of art (not a specific type being mentioned, just art), c) it is a general rule of marketing that sex sells.

Now, in regard to point a) above, I will say that I have encountered many people *online* that say they won't buy a book with gratuitous art, but I have never seen them when actually pushing product.  Thus, I take the online comment with a grain of salt.  This is not to say that they cannot exist, merely that they must (and by must I mean just that: 100%) be the minority, and a very specifically targeted market segment that most gaming companies are either unwilling or financially incapable of reaching.  It is a risk to produce games with no art, and also to produce games with no gratuitous art.  Half of business is narrowing risk.  Therefore, it is favorable to include buxom babes with spears held at suggestive angles.

Um, there is my 2 cents.

Dav


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Clay on July 23, 2001, 10:50:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-07-23 04:32, contracycle wrote:
And why would, for example, the fantasy of experiencing a world in which you are MOT judged primarily by sexual grounds not be a legitimate fantasy for a female gamer?


It might be perfectly legitimate for either gender.  I don't particularly enjoy being thought of as self-mobile genitalia myself.

You argued that fantasy is not an essential part of gaming.  If the game is chess, pinochle, or strictly a competition based on a set of rules, that statement is true.  I have trouble accepting that statement in terms of role playing.

Take as an example the two cat games being developed by Forge members.  If you live with an outdoor cat, you may well have had fantasies about living in their life for a while.  They live very dramatic lives without going further than the back yard, involving mass murder of small animals, bold challenges of the neighborhood dogs and late-night liasons under the pines--and that's just what my cat lets me see.  

The Double Standard

You rightly pointed out that it's very rare to portray ugly women, but fairly common to portray ugly men.  I agree that game publishers would do well to rectify this, and in my own game I will certainly deviate from this norm.  

Ugly pictures of models are going to be right out.  A decent photographer can take any model and bring out their beauty.  This same model which is the subject of a jaw-dropping photograph very frequently won't turn any heads walking down the street.  I intend to make use of this for both male and female models.  It's also a good chance for me to make sure that lots of people get to see me in evening wear.

As for the models I have in mind, there's a good deal more about them than their sexuality, and I hope that shows in the final artwork.  The desired models include a trainer of guard dogs, a veterinarian, a computer programmer, a school teacher, and a financial advisor.  Hopefully including this information in the artwork will make them more interesting.

Those Oppressive Beautiful Women

Quote

That is a misrepresentation of the point.  The criticism is that when this is the DOMINANT form of the protrayal of women, it expresses a profoundly unhealthy, oppressive form of social behaviour.


Could you explain how this is unhealthy or opressive, and who is being harmed?  It's also a feature of the very same escapist literature that good men are handsome, always consider the desires and needs of their wife/girlfriend/female colleague over their own needs, tender yet passionate lovers, and good providers.  Should we get rid of this concept as well?  As someone whose economic situation is currently precarious, I feel opressed by this expectation.

Judging the Book Before Its Cover

Quote

> 5. In the event that I ever get my own game to the point > that I can use some art, I hope to illustrate it with
> photographs of the women mentioned in item 4 above.

In which case it is unlikely I shall purchase it.


You'd rule out the validity of a game based on the bra size of the cover model?  Would you purchase it instead if I put a scrawny and unattractive male on the cover?  How about an attractive man in evening wear?  Or an unattractive woman?


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Clay on July 23, 2001, 11:15:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-07-23 14:41, Dav wrote:
Echoing the opinions of others, I am asking if this thread is about a) what art sells best (and under what circumstances) or b) what art is the "ethical high-ground"?  We all know what the high-ground is, even if we don't like to admit it.  


Dav,

I'd like to suggest that we're looking for the moral high ground here, and it's a bit uncertain.  I think that you addressed the issue of what art sells best very well.

There's certainly a moral position that some people would like us to take: depicting women in sexually suggestive art is bad and we shouldn't do it.  But it is also fascinating to lots of people--people who may be influenced to buy a product because of those depictions.

The issue at hands seems to be "How should game publishers incorporate this view?"  Because publishing is a business, the answer must take into account the market forces that you mention.  So we seem to be looking for the various aspects of the anti-cheesecake position that are compelling to various publishers.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: hardcoremoose on July 23, 2001, 11:37:00 AM
I may be deviating a bit from the thread here, but I want to bring up a couple points that I have personal experience with:

And why would, for example, the fantasy of experiencing a world in which you are NOT judged primarily by sexual grounds not be a legitimate fantasy for a female gamer?

I don't know why it wouldn't be, but it's not.  At least not with the women I've gamed with.  Now I'm sure this speaks to some sort of deeply-rooted psychological behavior permeating our civilization as a whole, but the women I've played games with always want their characters to be as overtly sexual as possible.  With the possible exception of the one female player in my current Sorceror game - and even her story is about the exploitation of women - most female gamers I know are always drawn to that Charisma score (or Appearance, if it's WW).  Where we male gamers know that Charisma is (traditionally) the Attribute to dump your lowest die roll, the females always place more significance on it.  A much more pervasive fantasy for the women I've been around is for them to make a character as sexually appealing as the rules will allow, and then play that character as unattainable.

Is this indicative of the female POV in general, or does it say something specifically about women who play RPGs?  Maybe it's just the women I've played games with.  I don't know the answers to these questions, but I think the observations are relevant.

BTW, has anyone ever read The Maxx.  There's a lot of interesting stuff in there about male and female relationships, in a format interesting to us geek types.

Take care,
Moose


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Blake Hutchins on July 23, 2001, 11:40:00 AM
A quick two cents here. I work in the computer gaming industry on a first-person shooter project (Tribes 2, for what it's worth), and there's definitely pressure to put cheesecake in computer games. Mostly this comes from marketing, but a substantial number of our consumers (at least of our particular niche) want what they commonly term "sluttiness" in female models and voice talent, which I find pathetic. This issue seems parallel to that of portraying realistic violence in computer games. Is there a limit? Do certain depictions cause a quantum of harm to the public, whether political, psychological, etc.? If so, do we as producers have a civic duty to edit product so as to minimize the potential harm?

I agree with Ron that policy differs from personal ethics on this issue. The marketing arguments attempt to justify cheesecake as a pragmatic policy, but I have to question the assumptions being made in those arguments. Personally, I don't think cheesecake sells an RPG any more than it sells computer games. In short, if Tomb Raider's gameplay sucked, it wouldn't matter how many hours one could watch Lara Croft's well rounded digital posterior sway through the jungle. The game wouldn't have sold. Best-sellers like The Sims, Black & White, Diablo II, and Civilization have solid or creative gameplay, but zero cheesecake (in light of the kind of depictions we've discussed heretofore, even the female characters in Diablo don't qualify). Likewise, DnD 3e, though it may sell better than sliced bread -- and may have some cheesecake tucked away amid the beholder and displacer beast glossies -- it is not using cheesecake as a sales driver.

Best,

Blake

P.S. I accept that a few consumers may be attracted to check out a game by cheesecake cover art, and that some of those folks may purchase the game. I maintain that (1) these folks do not represent a substantial number of sales, and (2) they are equally likely to be attracted by any compelling cover art.



[ This Message was edited by: Blake Hutchins on 2001-07-23 20:30 ]


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: contracycle on July 23, 2001, 01:13:00 PM
> Could you explain how this is unhealthy or opressive, and > who is being harmed? It's also a feature of the very same > escapist literature that good men are handsome, always
> consider the desires and needs of their

It is interesting that the "good man", who carries out such virtuous acts, is an element of fantasy, i.e. is by implication non-existant in the real, non-fantastic world.

The problem is NOT that women ARE portrayed in a sexual or sexually provocative manner - it is that they are so CONSISTENTLY portrayed in this manner.  If RPG's were full of women doing normal things, looking like normal people, in other words, Normal Women, there would be no problem.  But if an RPG chooses that the ONLY images of women it will have (barring the dramatic necessity of the Hideous Crone) are the beautiful, tits-out-for-the-boys variety, then it appears that the consistency in this publication is precisely that of a normative, primarily sexual role for women.

"While men tend to gain social prestige as they age, the opposite is true for women who are given little real power at any age, and are frequently viewed as one dimensional sexual objects - thus losing our usefulness as we age." Manifesto of Riot Girl (Taken from Zines)

> wife/girlfriend/female colleague over their own needs,
> tender yet passionate lovers, and good providers. Should > we get rid of this concept as well? As someone whose
> economic situation is currently precarious, I feel
> opressed by this expectation.

Haven't you heard?  A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.

The point behind this witticism is to critique the role of "provider"; considering that even today, women do two thirds of the worlds manual labour (UN figures), and that female skeletons are frequently found by archeologists to exhibit symptoms of heavy physical labour (bone deformation through water carrying a prime example), the idea of male-as-provider should be taken with a grain of salt; more like universal consumer.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: contracycle on July 23, 2001, 01:25:00 PM
Dav said:

> Ethically (and basing business ethic on the maxim of "it > is the ethical position of any business to increase
> profits"),

Indeed.  And some of us might consider such a principle itself to be unethical.  Therefore we are unlikely to be impressed that oppression of women is rendered ethical merely because it increases profits, any more than we are impressed by the argument that slavery in the third world is "ethical" because it increases the profits of the first (as Nike would have it).


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: contracycle on July 23, 2001, 01:28:00 PM
> You'd rule out the validity of a game based on the bra
> size of the cover model? Would you purchase it instead if

Again, misrepresentation.  

> I put a scrawny and unattractive male on the cover? How
> about an attractive man in evening wear? Or an
> unattractive woman?

Irrelevant, unless you have such little faith in your product that you hope to sell it based on the trouser-swellings of the browsing public.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Logan on July 23, 2001, 01:34:00 PM
.

[ This Message was edited by: Logan on 2001-07-23 20:53 ]


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Damocles on July 23, 2001, 03:29:00 PM
Um. Okay. Let's take this one thing at a time.

Cut'n Paste and much quoting ahead, people. Brace yourselves.
--------------
Quote

On 2001-07-22 18:24, greyorm wrote:
Honestly, if the above is the way you feel, why say anything at all?  It's a jab; it's essentially, "I disagree, but you might be a fanatic, so I won't waste my time besides saying I disagree.  (Ha-ha, neener!  Deal with that!)"


Not so. I meant what I said, not what you say. It was not a rhetorical question, but a genuine one. I didn't bother to be very diplomatic about it, but given the tone of the original post I didn't feel a particular need to. If you can't take it, don't dish it out....

Quote

And conversely, if you want others to be open to changing their minds based on your presentation, you had best be willing to have your mind changed as well.

I am. I don't have a very rigid position on the whole issue, actually. On some aspects I have a very definite opinion, on others I am undecided. On all, I am open to reasonable arguments. Honestly.

Quote

So, in my case, what would convince me would be hard, solid, scientific evidence based on a variety of reputable studies that explains why and how your position is accurate, and also equally and accurately explains my own experiences with the issue (as detailed in the other thread) without belittlement or legedermain of those experiences.

And would you like fries with that, sir? :smile:
Seriously, that's practically asking for a serious scientific article on the subject. I'm afraid that, by those standards, I can't convince you of anything. My own demands, for conversations like this at least, are not quite as exacting, so maybe you can change my mind on some aspect or other of the question.

But try to chill out, eh? I'll try, too.

-------------------

Quote

On 2001-07-22 19:14, Clay wrote:
It isn't entirely untrue to say that I'm a fanatic, since I intend to marry one of the women that I described.

Just for the record: I never thought you were a fanatic. I merely suspected you were not actually out for a discussion, but just for a fight. Admittedly, not a flattering suspicion, but a far cry from fanatism, I think.
Quote


That said, I am really interested in hearing an argument that can successfully refute the first four of my points.  

'kay.
Quote

It's also worth pointing out that I'm not necessarily supporting cheesecake for the sake of cheesecake.  But I do appreciate the art of Raphael Vargas, Boris Valejo, Julie Bell and other fantasy artists who seem to have captured what it is about the human form that intrigues us.  To put it more plainly, I like the photography in Playboy, and don't care for Penthouse.


Surprisingly enough, I don't have a problem with that at all. I do disagree with some of your initial points, though. Now, I may be repeating some stuff others have said about this, and I'm sorry for any redundancy, but I think at this point I should at least try to make my own position as clear as possible.

---------------------
Quote

On 2001-07-22 16:36, Clay wrote:
I'm interested in taking up this thread about how women are depicted in gaming.  In particular, I want to assert that it may at times be appropriate to show some cheesecake.

1. Some women (and men) are quite capable of exercising power through their sexuality.  Think of Madame Mertuile from Dangerous Liasons as a fictional example, or Mata Harri for a historical example.

That's pretty undeniable, I guess, but I don't really see how this applies to cheesecake art in rpgs. You could just as easily say there are a lot of potatos in the world, therefore it is reasoable for a rpg to show lots of pictures of potatoes.
I guess I just don't see the argument to refute here. Might be me, of course.
(As an aside, I don't really picture either of those characters as swing an oversized sword and wearing a chain mail bikini.)

Quote

2. Appealing to the fantasies of gamers is not only acceptable, but essential to the concept of gaming--we don't game to portray Bob (or Julie) the Janitor, after all.


This is, to my mind, not a good argument. For one thing, the term 'fantasies of gamers' is way, way to broad. Additionally, you seem to be arguing: We need fantasies. This a fantasy, therefore we need it. That's nonsense. Obviously, you don't want to include every kind of fantasy any gamer might have.

Quote

3. Stocking books with pictures of ugly people isn't going to do anything for sales.

Astoundingly enough, I distinctly remember seeing art that was not ugly _and_ did not show scantily clad warrior babes at several times in my life. Sometimes even in rpg books. You're just building up a convenient straw man and then tear it down. Nobody ever suggested doing books with 'pictures of ugly poeple'.
Also, I don't think this matters as much for sales as you think. Call of Cthulhu is, as I recall, mostly illustrated with pictures of ugly beings, if not strictly people, and I doubt a new edition with copious amounts of cheesecake would go over all that well with the fans.

Quote

4. I personally take offense to the idea that it's unrealistic or unflattering to portray large breasted, well-armed women as sensual.

I don't remember anybody saying that, but if they did I will agree they were wrong to do so.

Quote

The world is full of bossomy women and women who are well armed.  I can not only produce examples of both varieties, but the confluence of the two attributes.  I can also produce the men (all gamers) who can speak to the sensuality and sexual approachability of these women.

Well, maybe so. So what? What has this to do with the price of tea in china? Or with rpgs who chose, for some reason, to _only_ show this kind of women? (I exaggerate for dramatic effect.)
A rpg book in which every woman, or just every second woman is of this type, is in my opinion badly illustrated. It is also sexist because it offers only a very limited role for women (assuming the men depicted are not similar depicted in which case it get's more complicated.) Some female players may not mind this all too much for a number of reasons: They may be used to shrug away this kind of stuff. They may look beyond that to what else the actual game offers. They may just happen to like that role anyhow. In any case, it's not really a counter-example because nobody every argued that cheesecake art is completely and utterly off-putting to each and every woman.

Point 5 is not an argument, so I'll skip it.
--------------------
Quote

even her story is about the exploitation of women - most female gamers I know are always drawn to that Charisma score (or Appearance, if it's WW).  Where we male gamers know that Charisma is (traditionally) the Attribute to dump your lowest die roll, the females always place more significance on it.

I never noticed anything like that, but assuming you're right, that doesn't necessarily mean they are doing it so that their characters are sexually attractive. Another explanation, which I would actually find more plausible, could be that women are _generally_ more drawn to the social aspects of roleplaying. Talking instead of fighting. Charisma is (again traditionally) the one attribute that is any good for that.

Quote

A much more pervasive fantasy for the women I've been around is for them to make a character as sexually appealing as the rules will allow, and then play that character as unattainable.


I think you're assuming a lot there. For one thing, wanting to look as good as possible does not necessarily mean wanting to be sexually appealing as such. There are all kinds of possible other reasons.

Quote

know the answers to these questions, but I think the observations are relevant.

I agree, though I'm not convinced you can really generalize from them.
------

So this were the replies, but I'm not quite done blathering yet. Let me just state my own position on the subject again.

I don't object to cheesecake art or, in fact, to pornographic art as such.
I do however believe that it is used in rpgs way more often than appropriate for the games, and that, taken in context, it often contributes to a sometimes subtle sexist atmosphere that is off-putting to many potential female gamers. (I also believe that this, in the long run, weighs more heavily than the sales boost you get from having T&A art.)
I do not advocate that this should be solved by coercive measures or censorship of any kind. I feel I have to say this, because this is a frequent misunderstanding in these discussions. When I am saying "I think you shouldn't do this" I do not mean at all "I think you should not be allowed to do this."
Anyhow. I hope this cleared up something for someone. I promise any further posts from me on the subject will be concise to the point of reticience. In fact, at the moment I feel only up to answering yes/no questions at best, and that only barely.



Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: GreatWolf on July 23, 2001, 03:47:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-07-23 13:25, Ron Edwards wrote:
Hello,

Warning: the following point is guaranteed to annoy.


Hate to disappoint you.  :smile:

Seriously, while I intend to disagree with you below, please understand that I am not annoyed.

Quote

Ethics are not policies. Ethics are about what *I* am going to do, or do habitually. Policies (and politics, the making of policy) are about what *others,* that is , *groups* are enforced to do.




Quote

On the first thread about these matters, I asked where the big "should" was coming from. "Should" women be drawn like this in games. "Should" we buy such a game. And so on.

My claim is that, in this case, the "should" remains an expression of a personal ethic. As there is neither body politic, economic control, nor any means of enforcement, it cannot be considered a transitive, policy-level "should."


(I don't think that the snip takes this out of context.  If
so, I will adjust.)

Okay, now this is guaranteed to annoy.

I believe that the "should" comes from the ethical standards that God requires us to uphold.  One of those is that we ought not present a temptation to sin to another.  I do think that cheesecake art is a temptation to lust (at least for most).  The Seventh Commandment says, "Do not commit adultery."  In His commentary on this commandment in Matthew 5, Jesus states that if a man lusts after a woman in his heart, he has already committed adultery with her.  Thus, the state of the mind is what is at issue, not merely who you sleep with.  Cheesecake art is intended to encourage the viewer to lust, and therefore it is wrong.

(Aside:  Yes, I think that sex is good in the proper context, i.e. marriage.  I am married with three children, so you know that I don't abstain.  :wink:  I know that there are many who treat sex as a distasteful thing.  I most certainly do not.)

Now, I can guarantee that many of you will not like this idea.  However, a question was asked and I offer an answer.  I should note that Ron is quite correct in asking for a source of authority.  None of you are my superiors.  You aren't my boss or my governor or anything.  Neither am I your superior.  We are all equals here and unless I can appeal to appropriate authority, I have no right to tell you what to do.  As far as I know, God does not proscribe metaplot in RPGs.  Most of you know my thoughts on the matter, but if you intend to metaplot one of your games, then I have no authority to tell you that you "should" do it without a metaplot.  However, God does indeed proscribe lust, and therefore I can tell you that you "should" avoid using art that encourages lust, not because I say so, but because God says so.

I am fully willing to discuss this with anyone who is interested.  However, I do not wish to clog this forum with what will most likely become an off-topic conversation.  Therefore, feel free to private message me or drop me a line.  I am busy but I will do my best to converse with you in a calm and intelligent way.

Quote

P.S. My above argument cannot be analogized to issues that ARE at the "body politic" level. For instance, a person who claims that policies regarding prosecuting crimes of rape is "an individual ethic" is a moron. I'd appreciate it if no one were to ascribe such a view to me.


Quite understood and I did not see that in your post at all.




Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Supplanter on July 23, 2001, 05:32:00 PM
Quote
Okay, now this is guaranteed to annoy.


Annoy? I'm too astonished that a guy with the first name "Seth" and the last name "Ben-Ezra" is quoting the New Testament to be annoyed! :wink:

Quote
I do however believe that it is used in rpgs way more often than appropriate for the games, and that, taken in context, it often contributes to a sometimes subtle sexist atmosphere that is off-putting to many potential female gamers. (I also believe that this, in the long run, weighs more heavily than the sales boost you get from having T&A art.)


I tend to think it's the appalling treatment that many female gamers have experienced during play that bulks larger. Now you may have an argument that cheesecake art in games tends to draw revenge-minded sexists.

Over on GO, we've been kicking around the idea that gamers are disproportionately alienated from the body, physical sensation and the fleshy world generally. I think there's something to it. Thus too many gamers find that real chicks make them uncomfortable. Thus they become assholes. I suspect they would be assholes regardless of whether there was cheesecake art in their game books.

Best,


Jim


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: GreatWolf on July 23, 2001, 08:35:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-07-23 21:32, Supplanter wrote:
Quote
Okay, now this is guaranteed to annoy.


Annoy? I'm too astonished that a guy with the first name "Seth" and the last name "Ben-Ezra" is quoting the New Testament to be annoyed! :wink:



:grin:

Well, my father's father is Jewish, but my father's mother was Puerto Rican and both of my mother's parents were Swedish.

Hmm.  I guess that technically makes me a freak.  :razz:  That might also explain why I've never really understood racism.  Ah well.




Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 24, 2001, 10:50:00 AM
Seth,

I do understand your point about the role of God in ethics and policy. However, many folks take the viewpoint that relying on such an authority is not an acceptable policy-making standard. As you know, this is the basis for separation of church and state, and it applies to my above points about RPGs as well as to anything else. It is not against the law to sin.

Debate over whether that is a good thing is clearly a personal e-mail sort of issue.

I remain convinced that any "should" regarding breasts or any other putative indicator of sexiness or sexism in RPGs resides at the level of personal ethic, without compelling power over any other person. As I said before, this is based on the fact that role-playing design doesn't exist in an enforceable, policy-making context.

Of course, person-to-person convincing is always a fine thing, and I have no problem with (for instance) Contracycle or Damocles taking this approach, or (for instance) Clay taking this approach. But such discussion remains one person convincing another, not establishing a community-level policy.

Best,
Ron



Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Clay on July 24, 2001, 11:17:00 AM
So far, we've established that some people are concerned that T&A art might put some people off.  I haven't noticed any female voices speaking on this point (my apologies if I have mis-identified any genders--my normal visual identification method is non-functional in a text-only forum), so this concern may be more male angst than the actual voice of the female gamer.

Are there any female gamers out there who would like to chime in here?  Do you find the cheesecake puts you off games?  Do you actually run into much of it?

To be honest, most of the games that I have don't tend to run long on cheesecake.  My hope with my own game(s) that I can at least get female pictures in there.  They aren't going to look like pictures out of Playboy (I can't afford a photographer who's that good), but they aren't going to exactly be from Faith magazine, either.



Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Dav on July 24, 2001, 11:29:00 AM
WARNING: This is off topic.  I warn you now.  Stop reading if you don't want to deal with it.  I'll accept no pissiness by those who read this then complain that it is off topic.  I told you in the beginning.  Just move on to the next post.


contracycle

waaaay up a few threads you mentioned the questionable position of ethics=profits in business.

I just wanted to mention that these are in no way my own words being stated.  I am quoting from the greats here (P.T. Barnum as well as others who have used the quote quite often, historically).  However, the ultimate point of that quote is that should businesses increase profits, then it can afford more workers, who will dump more $$ into the consumer pool, which means more taxes, which means more interest groups with $$, which means public goods are on the rise.

The point, essentially, is that as long as business does what it does best, everything should balance.

In the case of Nike and slave labor (which is a misnomer, as they *are* paid), these people make .50 per day.  However, in the areas they make that money, a cop makes about $8 per week (I had to do a paper on this, so don't think I am furiously studying here folks...).  A cop is a specialized occupation, unlike a factory line worker.  The line worker makes $3 per day (six-day work week).  In the U.S, the average cop makes $45k to 95k per year.  The average factory line worker makes about $25k per year.  Thus, equality is maintained.  

In economic terms, most income is measured on the PPP scale, which stands for something... but think of it as purchasing power).  Thus, the two groups make the same amounts (roughly) in terms of purchasing power.  Thus, Nike is not doing anything wrong (ethically or otherwise).  They follow all laws of the country, pay equal to above average wages for that area, and insure that these people have the outlets to purchase goods with their money.  In some cases, Nike has built entire towns to support a commercial lifestyle around their factory.  

This is very off-topic.  I suggest we go to private message if you want to discuss this.  This is actually one of my majors in school, as well as one of my many interests, so forgive me if I went nuts on length and such in the post.

Dav


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: GreatWolf on July 24, 2001, 03:25:00 PM
Quote

On 2001-07-24 14:50, Ron Edwards wrote:
Seth,

I do understand your point about the role of God in ethics and policy. However, many folks take the viewpoint that relying on such an authority is not an acceptable policy-making standard. As you know, this is the basis for separation of church and state, and it applies to my above points about RPGs as well as to anything else. It is not against the law to sin.


With all due respect, Ron, I think that you are missing my point.  First, I am talking about a personal ethic.  I would simply argue that God defines what is and is not an acceptable personal ethic.

Moreover, you will note that in my post I made no mention of opinion.  In fact, my argument is fairly syllogistic.  My statements about cheesecake art and the acceptability thereof were statements of fact, not opinion.  It is true that God forbids adultery.  It is also true that lust is included under "adultery".  It s wrong to encourage another person to sin.  Cheesecake art encourages lust.  Therefore it is forbidden.  I know that you see the logical flow.  Each proposition can be supported with a factual basis.  Where is the opinion?

Rather, you restate your opinion to me.  I understand that your view is rather common and that many on this forum probably agree with you.  Nevertheless, you have not come to grips with the factual basis of the argument.  I know that someone as opposed to post-modernism (as am I) will not be satisfied to leave the issue with a mere "Believe what you will."  I am making claims of truth, not opinion, and truth is never just an opinion.

To analogize:  I say, "Gravity makes things fall.  If you drop that glass bowl, it will fall to the floor and shatter."  Someone saying "Well, that's just your opinion," does not invalidate the truth of what I have just said.  Rather, it makes that someone incorrect.

I wanted to note this on the forum so that no one will mistake the argument that I am making.  I am willing to pursue this further on this forum insofar as it remains on topic.  I do not wish to contribute to what would become a massive thread drift.  Generalities can be taken up with me in email or private messages.

Thanks for listening and hope to hear from ya'll.

Seth



Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Cameron on July 24, 2001, 04:13:00 PM
I don't want to make anyone angry, but how are we sure that God forbids adultery? Sure God is infallible, but the 10 commandments passed through several people's mouths (and pens) before reaching us. Maybe Moses paraphrased, or didn't understand because his limited human mind couldn't fathom God's exact intent. Maybe whomever committed the events of Moses bringing the 10 commandments down from the mountain for posterity misunderstood or misrepresented the details. How many times was the account of Moses transcribed before making it into the Bible? How many different languages did it go through? The possibilities for human error are uncountable. I've played too many games of telephone to accept God's word second hand, third hand or worse.

This is why it is impossible to institute absolutes on a debate of ethics. It's not a matter of faith in God, it's a matter of faith in historians and scribes.

-Cameron


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Ron Edwards on July 24, 2001, 04:25:00 PM
And this is exactly what Seth meant by going off-topic.

Dav and Cameron, both of you have done exactly what I asked people not to: examining the fundamentals of others' starting points. Your posts are exactly the kind of thing that belongs on private e-mail to the person in question.

This is not an open forum on philosophical foundations of our various outlooks. It is a symposium regarding certain images or concepts in the context of role-playing design.

For instance, Seth and I have very different notions about what a "fact" is. It serves no purpose to play pick-pick in public and all we'd come up with would be reiterations of our fundamentals.

C'mon, how about some dignity? Could we get back to talking about bare breasts, please?

Best,
Ron


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: james_west on July 24, 2001, 06:41:00 PM
Back to bare breasts ...

I've noticed, since three women joined my game group, that the games have gotten far smuttier, and it's mostly their fault. Further, my friend Bill Stoddard (of GURPS Steampunk fame) has a mostly female group, and it's extemely x-rated.

Has anyone else noticed this effect? Are women in general -more- pornographic than men in role-playing games?

            - James


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Supplanter on July 24, 2001, 07:13:00 PM
Quote
Has anyone else noticed this effect? Are women in general -more- pornographic than men in role-playing games?


Maybe. Thinking of my own game, um, insufficient data. Two of three female players' characters have gotten some, while only one of about five male players has, but one seduction for each gender was initiated by an NPC. (Which makes me the sleaze, I guess!) That's in a PBEM. Our FTF campaign has one permanent female player; while her first character had a romance, she's no Prince Carton.

Certainly I feel that if there is anything we can do to attract more well-armed, large-breasted women to the hobby, we should do it. Short of us all leaving the hobby. Which is maybe what it would take.

But where was I! Oh yeah - coming from amber-l and the Everway list, not to mention my own PBEM, the lack of women on the Forge and GO seems very weird. And rgfa puts paid to any "women aren't very theoretical" explanation of their absence here: some of the most useful theoretical work done on that forum was done by women.

So the first question is, How can we attract more well-armed, large-breasted women to the Forge? I believe I have seen lists of usenet newsgroups devoted specifically to well-armed, large-breasted women. Perhaps we could post invitations there?

Best,


Jim


[ This Message was edited by: Supplanter on 2001-07-24 23:15 ]


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: GreatWolf on July 24, 2001, 07:50:00 PM
Quote

C'mon, how about some dignity? Could we get back to talking about bare breasts, please?


And said with a straight face, too!  Applause!


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Uncle Dark on July 24, 2001, 09:44:00 PM
I've both GMed and played in groups that were 50-80% female.  I think the "smut factor" is not nescesarily a gender thing.

Some of the raunchiest players I know are female.  Some of the primmest players I know are female.  Depends on the female.

The females I've played with from the bi-poly-pagan sector of my life have been pretty out there.  (Yay!!!)  Others weren't.

About the only taste (or lack thereof) in gaming that seems to me to be gender related is a narrativist vs. other GNS  positions.

Lon


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Levekius on July 25, 2001, 01:49:00 AM
Wow. Pretty nervous here. Haven't been to the forge for a while, and now I feel compelled to reply because I feel I have been "there", front row seat.

A bit about me, so that you know where I come from:

-I was an assistant-photographer a dozen years ago. I worked with furniture (commercial) but also models (fashion) and of course your everyday customer (From average workingman to athletes who wants a pic (and yes, some of those were nudes) of him/herself.

-My girlfriend is an artist. She has worked in many fields using many tools. She does 3D commercial projects, video editing. She draws and paint too. Yes, I've seen some naked women a few times at home. :smile: She has done so far one roleplaying project. A couple of illos only.

-In the last 10 years, my groups have met or exceeded a 50% female ratio. So I game with women a lot. But of course, it is but a small sample. YMMV.

-Recently, I have worked in the music industry. I've searched for talents here and there, and been a sound engineer in a studio.

So that's it. And yes, I believe all that was relevant. Now, on to my views:

I should start by saying I have mixed feelings about the whole thing. I believe roleplaying are on a tightrope right now. For a lot of reasons. Doing everything we can to bring more *people* to this hobby is *sound* thinking.

A logical starting point, once you have tapped in only one target group, is to see how you can expand this. I will suggest that some ethnical/cultural groups have been virtually ignored. It's not just women. It's a lot of people everywhere. So once we're done with breasts, may I suggest we talk about this ? (If it has been covered, I apologize).

Next, I will give a few reasons why I am concerned, and later, I'll give a few reasons why I am not (as I said mixed feelings)

Why I think there's more sex in RPG art than needed:

As far as I'm concerned (I hope I won't sound cynical or anything) ethics and business are pretty much unrelated, despite what business people claim. The goal is often to sell, and every shortcuts will be taken if necessary.

Unfortunately, it's not always necessary. And that's where I think many companies have failed. I do not remember seeing a naked woman on my original 1st edition AD&D books. Come to think of it... there were NO woman depicted. Yet, it is undeniable that the game was targetting specifically MALE customers. No women were depicted on the products at all, and the only gender mechanic was a penalty to women (on strenght) with nothing to offset this. (Those two facts are not meant to be sole evidences. They are not. Ask anyone who worked at TSR at the time. They were NOT targetting women).
Now, the fact D&D was a humongous success to a male audience kind of proves you do not absolutely *need* to put a babe on the cover to sell to male.

Here's another thing: Lessening impact. If you've ever seen wrestling, you definitly know what I mean. There are a few rules of thumb to this:

Rule number 1-If everyone does it, you're lost in the crowd.
I have lived the experience "from the front row". The first time a heavy metal band decided to proudly sing in french in my province, everybody loved the idea. Just the CONCEPT, the IDEA brought people in. More bands tried it when they saw it worked. But eventually, nobody cared. It wasn't a novel point anymore.

Even if you assume you will attract some people who want to see flesh, chances are your (poorly thought out) business plan is presently ignoring other people with other needs. Find those needs, pinpoint them. Now, be careful. When I say "poorly thought out" I speak of breasts being showed just for the sake of it. Pidge (The Last Exodus) is tring to make a statement with the cover of TLE. Yes, attracting "nudie fans" certainly HELPED in making the decision. But at least, there's an underlying reason behind it.

Rule number 2-Can you up the ante, punk ?
Basically, people get accustomed to those stunts. And sooner or later, the bar is raised (if I may say so). How far will you go ? Just watch wrestling to get the general idea. It gets lower and lower every week. Pretty soon, they will simulate full rape scenes (they're pretty close) if they keep this up. So, once you take a certain path, know that it is VERY difficult to stop.

YOU might not be willing to go past a certain point. But at that point, what do you do ? If you keep the same strategy, customers might, *might* go elsewhere.

Or suppose you decide to change strategy ? There might be no turning back.
Take Dragon magazine, for instance. Go grab issue 280, please. Have it ? Ok. Check that section on fan mail. In it, you will find out that WotC admit they have received a LOT of mail regarding depiction (or lack thereof) of attractive, sexy female in WotC's new products. (In case some people would not know, WotC's new plan was to attract more female. They decided to pretty much abolish cheesecake, and use non-derogatory gender use by splitting rules explanation between him and her, he and she, etc...).

Now, what do they do ??? They're caught, in a way. Because over the year, they have relied on unimaginative art (chainmail bikini ad nauseum) years ago, people in place now do "suffer" the consequence. The fanbase is there. They demand their monthly dose of flesh. (Why would someone whine about this instead of buying a zine such as Playboy or even Photo is beyond me, but well...)

So, apparently, they will correct this, or so they said. (I haven't picked up the zine since 280, can someone tell me if changes were indeed made ?) But the tone was not happy. I suspect they will try to please everybody (which, in the end, can sometimes be the WORST way to go).

As you can see, the laws of "lessening impact" may be cruel. You should not take them too lightly. On the bright side, a small business is under the radar, and often, the fanbase are more "rational". The "angry mob" of D&D fans are more formidable than all other fans combined. It is still something to think about.

Will your views change ? Think about it. If the answer is "no, I am perfectly comfortable with this" then good for you ! :smile: I am not Madonna, I respect her freedom of choice. I just would not like raise kids after having done what she has done. (Please, PLEASE... I beg of you to take this as my FEELINGS on the matter. Take it in context :smile: ). Basically, you need to be comfortable and proud of what you do, if only for your general happiness.

Here's the most important issue. I don't even remember if it's been discussed on this (lloooonggg) thread: These are games. Games, by definition, whether we like it or not.... should be targetted at kids first. Now, hang on here. I'm not about to make a judgment here. I'm not going to tell you how you should feel, how appropriate selling stuff to kids using sexual content is.

But have you thought about *their parents*. I understand this is not as big a concern here. Because many designers here are not trying to appeal to the masses. Many don't even target children at all. But if the inside of your book has been designed to be "acceptable" to the average parent... make sure the cover is too. (While we're at it... why not make sure the cover is always representative of what the book is about ? :smile: )

I'd say at *least* 25% of the purchase at the main shop in montreal is made by parents, relatives... people who have nothing to do with gaming, and who might have second thoughts if they find a book "distasteful".

I could add to that, that a small percentage out of the remaining 75% may come from girlfriends. I know a few girls who gladly offer RPG gifts to their loved one. But I garantee a few of them will NEVER offer "The Last Exodus" :smile:

My last argument (but it's been said often in this thread) is that yes, I believe strongly that this DOES perpetuate myths, stereotypes. The cult to the perfect body (a body that has all the APPEARANCE of being perfect... but not always is). Plastic surgery, marginalization. You've heard it all before. Yadda yadda. On that point, I do not claim to have EVEN anecdotal informations. I'm at a loss. I haven't studied beyond the required basic psychology courses in college.

oh, here's a bonus one: the fascination for bigger and bigger breasts is VERY unhealthy. It creates irrealistic expectations in males and females. Cheesecake is one thing. Buying your girlfriend sexy lingerie is one thing. Buying her a new pair of boobs is pretty moronic. (I realize the last paragraph was a personnal comment. Sorry, but couldn't help it).

That's it. Now...

Why I do not mind cheesecake:

Well, basically, I like women :smile: I appreciate beauty. I *try* to paint myself. I love nature, I love animals. I also love the human body. And being Heterosexual... the female body does please me a lot. :smile: (I can say I don't particularly like big breasts, though :smile: )

But here's a more interesting thing: Does the use of suggestive art REALLY bother females ? A few of you have asked, and with good reason.

Apparently, that strategy DOES work in pop culture and entertainment. And roleplaying is DEFINITLY an entertainment form. The Spice Girls, Britney Spears, Madonna, Charlie's Angels.

It worked for guys and gals alike, it seems. Not only does it appeal to women and girls... it appeals to children... and their parents don't seem to mind. Grown women apparently had fun watching the silliness in "Charlie's Angels". (The question is, did they tolerate it because it was silly ON PURPOSE ?). Britney is this super mega young bomb. Basically everything that seems unnacceptable. A very very young girl with unbelievable raw sexual vibe. As much as some people *complain*, it sure seems to be a viable marketing path. It works. It sells.

Another aspect: female empowerment through sexual affirmation. The whole girl power thing. Some feel that yes, there is a return to sexuality (after the "grundge years") in pop culture. And that more than ever, woman need to show beauty, as long as it's not a submissive gimmick. Again, I'm way out of my league here. But I DO think women, as depicted by Royo, look very powerful to me. Matter of fact all gamers at my table have to either draw a pic, or find a pic somewhere for their characters. It has not been uncommon for them to choose sexy women... including Royo's works.

Here's a weaker one: The ratio between *female GMs* and *male GMs* is even MORE unequal than the ratio of *female players* and  *male players*. If this one is indeed true (it seem to be based on every anecdotical sources I have come across), then an argument could be made that "you appeal to a male audience" and IN TURN, it's THEIR job to appeal to females. (Basically, the argument is that women won't even "experiment" the marketing aspect.

Considering that the prime buying source of products are GMs, and that male GMs by far outnumber females... why not market it to them ? After all, many of my players have NEVER seen the covers of the products I use. They aren't disturb by the Unknown Armies cover... they've never seen it :smile: I'm the one who use these systems. In many games not involving book flipping, they never read a word.

I've used The Story Engine and they didn't even know WHAT IT WAS CALLED. I just asked them to throw dice, that's all.

(Of course, this beg the question. Is it true that there are even less female GMs, and why ? But it has nothing to do with cheesecake IMO. It STILL need to be adressed, the sooner the better.)

Last but not least: May people just don't mind. Male and female. They just have no issue with cheesecake. There is a vocal minority out there. And some kind of overreaction. To say the truth, there are many products without cheesecake at all. It's not some kind of disease. And yes... it IS a fantasy. Women are very social creature. In many games, female players INSIST in playing romantic moments, intense relationship. Our look is a powerful instrument of interaction.

That "body" language *is* a tool used in real life. Many women DO want to play beautiful and/or sexy women. Because in real life they also WANT to be beautiful and sexy (for good or bad reasons... I think getting deeper would turn this in a full-blown social commentary).

If you forget the REALISTIC aspects of ridiculous protection offered by chainmail bikini... well you get an outfit that would certainly have been weared in a world such as Forgotten Realms. It happens that the Realms are mostly played with D&D. A game that is not too concerned with accuracy, and all about heroism. So, there's an argument there that cheesecake can be an accurate depiction of this (and many others) fantasy world.

That's it. I'm done with my pros and cons.

Cheesecake is everywhere around us. It's in every form of entertainment. Even those who target VERY young audiences. This is a valid subject, but let's keep in mind this is much bigger than RPGs. And as it's been demonstrated here, it's also a touchy subject for many.

When my girlfriend illustrated some parts from "Apocalypse" (a CORPS supplement), she had to take her first RPG decision on the subject. One picture depicts a giant crocodile (a MONSTER, really). We discussed several concepts. To illustrate the size of that critter, she decided for the classic use of a human figure nearby.

And yes, after much thoughts, she went for a woman, half naked (the other half in the water). The only thing that hides her breast is her arms (she's washing her hair, if I remember right, and an elbow hides a minimum of flesh).

Since CORPS was using VERY small illos, the impact is MUCH less provocative than the full-size drawing we still have at home :smile:

That was also taken into account. And those will be my last words. You can decide whatever you will. You can say whatever you want to yourself and/or to everybody else. But every decision you make DOES make a small impact in a large scale, worldwide culture. Just don't pretend it means nothing. It does. It already has through the decades. Culture has changed the mindsets of millions of people. It does every day. Be responsible.

Hope I didn't bore you all :smile:

Take care !

Martin



Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: contracycle on July 25, 2001, 04:24:00 AM
Dav,

I agree that this should go to personal mail, but I'd like to do more flag-setting, so everyone interested can be aware of which drivers are informing my analyses.

I'm a Marxist (well a Trotskyist actually) and I do not accept the equivalence model as applied by Nike etc.; IMO this is merely western rationalisation of oppression.  And given their attendence at the anti-capitalist demos (frex Genoa recently), its pretty clear those Nike workers don't agree with the rationalisation either.  As Naomi Klein pointed out, it is conspicuous that the few buildings in the Nike stable which do not bear the swoosh are the buildings in which their products are actually manufactured.

If you'd like, I would be happy to provide you with a detailed analysis of the flaws in the capitalist theory of value, and an outline of its prime competitor, the labour theory of value, as outlined by Marx and later authors.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Damocles on July 25, 2001, 06:14:00 AM
Quote

On 2001-07-24 23:13, Supplanter wrote:

But where was I! Oh yeah - coming from amber-l and the Everway list, not to mention my own PBEM, the lack of women on the Forge and GO seems very weird. And rgfa puts paid to any "women aren't very theoretical" explanation of their absence here: some of the most useful theoretical work done on that forum was done by women.



I've heard that both Amber and Everway are actually known for having an above average number of female players. Assuming that's true, it would be interesting to know. Everway certainly makes a conscious effort to be inclusive, but there may be other factors at work.
It would be interesting if there was any actual hard data on this. Does anyone if this has ever been examined?


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: gizem on July 25, 2001, 09:47:00 AM
Here are some opinions, and observations, not strictly on topic I am afraid, but quite related, at least written in direct reply to previous mails posted here;

Observation  No. 1:
In Saudi Arabia, Mr. Ben-Ezra's point of view is the state policy. Customs officers confiscate (or tear out of magazines) pictures and illustrations of women when one enters the country. Please note that I do not doubt that Mr. Ben-Ezra is a distinguished gentleman, and would not advocate such policies.

Opinion No. 1:
Why females tend to play high charisma characters and also try to be sexy in real life, whereas men dump lowest scores to that score?
As comrade Contracycle correctly observes, this is the most important aspect of their gender role. A man need not be handsome, he can be strong, smart, talented, whatever, but for a woman the most important single virtue is sexual appeal. This is what we (the society) value in a woman. There is owerwhelming scientific evidence on this, I remember numerous very interesting psychological experiments, but won't go into detail.
Women (and men) react differently to this attitude. Some are frustrated by it, yet others (most, I'd say) consciously or unconsciously use it for their own ends. This is one of few weapons that they can employ in a male-dominated society. (This is also why they are not all pro- or anti-cheesecake or don't play similar characters.)
We think that a good-loking woman is valuable, difficult to obtain, so it is easy for them to seem powerful, or rich or anything, with the addition of a suitable prop, i.e. a gun.
When thinking beyond my gut reactions, big breasted women with guns don't seem powerful and commanding, they seem pathetic (if doing it unconsciously), or at best cunning (if conscious about it). I remember someone has written something about how embarassing these models in chain mail bikinis seemed in a gaming convention. For the male role, having to use one's sexual appeal to obtain power is somewhat embarassing (I called it pathetic). With all the talk of emancipation of women, and equality of sexes going around, I suspect that this is why he felt that way.

Observation No. 2:
I remember seeing this plain-looking olympic medallist (or similar decoration) female shooter from the Turkish Army. She did not have her breasts bursting out from her officer's uniform. I admit that she did not seem so dangerous or powerful. So this 'power' in depiction is illusionary, real 'power' lies in talent, skill or similar less obvious things.

Opinion No. 2:
Finally I think this gender role division is natural. My perspective is similar to that of evolutionary psychology, if anyone is familiar with this. This is also why I see no point writing things like 'yes I like women'.
But, on the other hand, I also believe that this is unethical. For me 'ethical' is not equal
to 'natural', 'religious', or 'profitable'. So I dislike cheescake art in RPGs. What I can do about this is to be  sceptical about games with this kind of depiction of women. And maybe to discuss the issue in forums...

This is how I see the issue, and I hope I did not sound too good. Thank you for your valuable attention,

Gizem Forta
- third world is watching you


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: John Wick on July 25, 2001, 04:17:00 PM
I'm not sure if anyone's addressed the points I'd like to make (there are a LOT of replies to this thread), but I'll give it a try.

I have no problem with cheesecake. I don't see why exaggerated sexual organs should give anyone a problem.

I mean, I love looking at scantily clad men with HUGE BULGING PENISES, ONLY JUST BARELY COVERED BY A RIPPING CODPIECE!!! OILED-DOWN, BLANK-EYED AND DUMB!!! THAT'S HOW I WANT THEM!!! LOOKING AT ME WITH THE THREAT OF VIOLENCE!!! VIOLENCE TURNS ME ON, BABY!!!

Yeah, sure. It's an exaggeration. Sue me. But there it is.

And I'll stick by my guns on a previous quote: "Ain't nothing sexier than a woman who can kill you."

Take care,
John


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Clay on July 25, 2001, 04:22:00 PM
Quote

When thinking beyond my gut reactions, big breasted women with guns don't seem powerful and commanding, they seem pathetic (if doing it unconsciously), or at best cunning (if conscious about it).


I suspect that if the woman has any familiarity with the weapon, you'll find she has a good deal of power over the immediate situation.  Her boobs are unlikely to interfere. As someone once wrote in a song, "I've got the pistol so I'll keep the pesos.  That seems fair."


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: contracycle on July 26, 2001, 12:15:00 AM
in my youth, when I knew people who read Soldier of Fortune magazine, I came across ads for videos of large-breasted women firing automatic weapons on a beach.  I find this really bizarre.


Title: Well armed, large breasted women put people off games?
Post by: Levekius on July 26, 2001, 06:16:00 AM
in my youth, when I knew people who read Soldier of Fortune magazine, I
                           came across ads for videos of large-breasted women firing automatic
                           weapons on a beach. I find this really bizarre.


Wow. This is off-topic. But wasn't there something similar too in "Jackie Brown" IIRC ? I think it was Samuel L. Jackson and DeNiro watching a video.