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Author Topic: Re: What does role playing gaming accomplish?  (Read 44801 times)
Walt Freitag
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Posts: 1039


« Reply #90 on: December 06, 2002, 06:39:53 AM »

I'm glad I asked the question, because I've now received three completely different interpretations: Gareth's immediately above; one in a PM regarding fantasized female homoeroticism; and MK's own answer (which I'll take as authoritative, since it was her metaphor to begin with), which was:

Quote
Walt, I was just trying to get the "being viewed as potential sexual partner" phenomenon in; it would of necessity involve changing orientation so it's not a perfect fit.

I didn't even attempt to take on the aspects of roleplaying rape, having prostitutes as characters, actually being propositioned, repellent conversations, or attempting a homosexist version of Grand Theft Auto.

Good thing, too. It probably would have led to some real angry posts in response.


I understand the point better now. I also understand and acknowledge that antisocial misbehavior of all sorts occurs. But I don't see evidence to support the implication that mistreatment of women in particular is a pervasive theme in role playing systems or source materials. In particular, I don't regard female NPCs who are potential consensual sex partners for male PCs or NPCs as out of line, even if they're depicted as "in distress" and awaiting rescue. I don't believe, for example, that encountering any imprisoned man is value-neutral while encountering any imprisoned woman is automatically a symbol of sexual subjugation. (Depiction of mistreatment of people in general is practically universal in RPGs, which is what makes this so difficult to sort out.)

Also, while I agree with and have always lived by "do not rape their characters" (running LARPs makes one very careful about such things), the idea that rape is worse than murder (murder and attempted murder being pervasive in role playing games with little complaint) disturbs me. It appears to carry the inescapable implication that a woman's sexual purity is of more value than her life. Certain societies dominated by primitive screwhead misogynist assholes who make a cruel mockery of Islam profess exactly that.

- Walt
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Emily Care
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Posts: 1126


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« Reply #91 on: December 06, 2002, 06:46:18 AM »

Well, that water sure does look chilly, but I think I need to take a dip anyway....

Where to begin?  

As far as men and women being different:  this statement is true and helpful with respect to physiological differences and the different kinds of experiences men and women have (as has been noted, women may feel less safe going to a strange man's apartment to play, etc.). However, this statement implies things that are not true.  The corrolary: "Men and women are different and these difference can never be bridged or ever really understood," creates barriers between men and women.  

I am sure everyone here would be interested in hearing about the differences in men's and women's experiences, since this would enable us to understand eachother's viewpoint.   Am I wrong?

Difference among groups members are usually as widely varied as differences between groups when you really look at it.

However, two differences along male/female lines that have cropped up in this conversation that I've noted are 1) the kind of hostile environment many aspects of rpg and the broader gaming/comic/geek environment present to women, and 2) the issue of getting laid helping men be better able to offer a friendly gaming environment to women gamers.  

My thoughts:
OK, Forge men, here we are. This is it, you asked why there are not as many women gamers, MK's hyperbolic post about the industry treating straight men as the anomalous and sexualized Other is an excellent document to help you get a feel for what makes women uncomfortable.  You are role-players! Use your talents to get into that character, to empathize and understand the range of emotions from a kind of vague discomfort it could cause women to feel, all the way to having to face the threat of rape, and institutional discrimination and control that women have faced and continue to.  Take this as an opportunity, and ask questions about what you don't understand, rather than refuting it because you personally don't believe you would feel that way.  Thank you everyone who did understand and expressed support. Thank you MK for writing it. I thought it was dead on and helpful.

Getting laid:  What I heard said: When men are desperate or hungry for sex, it is much more likely to bleed over into how they treat female friends they game with (and presumably do anything else with socially), which will contribute to making the women feel uncomfortable.  So men are being encouraged to take responsibility for their own sexual needs and not impose that on women in their circle.  Forgot something folks! Most of the posts about this only mentioned the need for sex, the emotional aspects are just as critical.  Otherwise, masturbation would be all you need.  Men are looking for intimacy, too.

Not in every specific case, but overall in the US, culturally, men are disencouraged in almost everyway possible from engaging with their own emotions or to be intimate with others. I believe Vincent was getting at something along these lines and saying that his relationships allowed him to relate better to himself and others of all genders.  Women, on the other hand, are almost equally encouraged to do the opposite.  Interactions in sports, games and role-playing games have emotional components that are not acknowledged: from identification with character or team and vicarious thrills of success, to the frisson of conflict with another, physical or intellectual.  Feel about that for a minute.  Then think about the things that Walt outlined in his post about what women gamers look for. They are the same things as men, but more so--not limited to a competitive and emotionally distanced model.  

Women are encouraged to access much more of their own emotional experience so may look for less externalized and vicarious experiences to feel similar fulfillment.  Though there is a romantic fantasy model in much of media that is geared towards fulfilling these desires in women.  Well, our society raises us in alienation from one another and promises two goals for men and women (especially if white): emotional security to women, and financial security for men.  

Not a really clear analysis, but food for thought, perhaps.

--Emily Care
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Black & Green Games
Clay
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Posts: 550


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« Reply #92 on: December 06, 2002, 08:27:38 AM »

Vincent: I'm sorry if I gave you the impression that I thought you were clueless.  You're right, we're in total agreement.

Gordon: thank you for expressing my point more clearly.  My "get laid" advice is saying "deal with it off the table." You're right that in some idealized world we could just correct the behavior.  I think we're fooling ourselves if we think we live in that world. Our little monkey brains are the only ones we've got, and the only one's we're going to get, and they're hard wired to be on the lookout for food, sex and a warm place to get out of the weather.

Emily: My own experience suggests that I don't particularly need to be in love with the person who's satisfying the sexual urge. Having sex with someone that I'm not in love with, but happen to enjoy shaking the bed with, has been sufficient to curb game problems. Even sex with someone I didn't like and didn't even enjoy having sex with also curbed the urge, although in unpleasant ways in that I'm not looking for sex at the table, but I'm also pissed off.

I do agree with you on one point though: intimacy with someone you love is the best solution. Since I met my wife I have had absolutely no uncomfortable moments of looking for love at the table.
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Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management
MK Snyder
Member

Posts: 116


« Reply #93 on: December 06, 2002, 09:18:11 AM »

The difference between rape and getting killed in RPGs:

In REAL LIFE it is extremely unlikely that I as an American female will be killed by a maniac, sword wielding or otherwise.

In REAL LIFE it is extremely likely that I will experience sexual assault, harrassment, domestic violence, or economic discrimination.

In REAL LIFE it is very likely that any female player will have *already* experienced sexual assault, harrassment, date rape, domestic violence, or economic discrimination.

There are also the differences in how the two forms of character damage are handled in-game. To die in battle is quite a bit different from being raped.

Interestingly enough, in RPG's male rape is probably underrepresented. Consider that.
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Uncle Dark
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Posts: 215


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« Reply #94 on: December 06, 2002, 09:34:42 AM »

Quote from: Nuredin


Maybe some do's as well as do nots?



Okay:

Do intervene when somethig is going on (in game or at the table) that makes another player uncomfortable.  Engaging in or allowing behavior that makes players not want to come back is detrimental to the gaming group.  Note that simply not saying anything comes across as tacit aproval.

Do encourage and reward the non-mechanical aspects of gaming.

Do allow for multiple ways of dealing with a problem, including social strategies.  Reward these just as you would killing critters.

Do encourage your fellow gamers to bathe, shave, and otherwise be presentable.  I'm not saying everybody should dress up and break out his or her best cologne, but you'd be surprised how many guys I've gamed with thought something like: "it's just gaming with they guys.  They won't mind if I haven't showered in two days..."

Do engage other players in non-game-related social activity before, after, and (if it's not disruptive) during the session.  This goes for new players as well as members of the opposite sex.

Do be aware of what things you wouldn't be offended/disturbed by that do offend/disturb the other players.  I'm not saying that one should never do or say anything disturbing, but do it with awareness.  If you're going to be pushing someone's emotional buttons, do it for a good reason, not just as an off-the-cuff remark.

Do assume that everyone who's gaming is just as interested in the game as you are, until they say otherwise.

Do be willing to listen to everyone's suggestions, even if you don't expect them to come up with something useful.  You might be surprised.

Do leave room in the table-talk for other people to get their say in.

Finally, Do take the concerns and complaints of others seriously.  Just because you didn't see it/feel it that way doesn't mean that someone wasn't hurt.

Lon
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damion
Member

Posts: 198


« Reply #95 on: December 06, 2002, 09:40:49 AM »

I'll bring the Aspergers count to 3, but since my experiances seem to be almost the same as Fang, but with a slighly lower IQ, I'll leave it at that.

MK-Good job with the reversal post, I found it rather disturbing. I'm glad some hyperbole was involved (oh good, there's hope...).
 
Mk, Emily, or for that matter, anyone else:

Many of the good steps have been mentioned, such as not tolerating sexism among your group, inviting in more gamers, changing bad attitudes one might have toward female gamers, ect.  

My question is this:

Is there anything in the structure of RPG's that should be examined? I'm talking about things in the system or presentation of material. (Ignoring stuff we already know about, such as cheesecake(where did this term come from anyway?) art and ludicrous stuff like geneder based stat mods).

I know Walt mentioned that he persieved differences in the types of games females preferred. One could assume these differences are a consequence of enculturation, but that doesn't make them less real.
Should we take them into account, which might appeal more to women, but enforces the enculturation or should games ignore such things, (the idea being to not 'target' anyone, but just be a game)?

I like the second one, and a purpose of the Forge(IMHO) is to promote indie games, which tends to increase the diverstiy, but perhaps not enough.  What are peoples opinons of the designes that have been posted here on the forge?
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James
Gordon C. Landis
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Posts: 1024

I am Custom-Built Games


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« Reply #96 on: December 06, 2002, 10:27:43 AM »

First, a specific bit back at Clay:
Quote from: Clay
Gordon: thank you for expressing my point more clearly.  My "get laid" advice is saying "deal with it off the table." You're right that in some idealized world we could just correct the behavior.  I think we're fooling ourselves if we think we live in that world. Our little monkey brains are the only ones we've got, and the only one's we're going to get, and they're hard wired to be on the lookout for food, sex and a warm place to get out of the weather.


Well, I think we can keep that monkey brain in check, somewhat, or at the very least I don't want "monkey brain" to be an excuse for unacceptable conduct.  Still - I agree, we shouldn't fool ourselves, either.

But now a key pont for me -  I've tried to be very careful (though perhaps not explict enough) to word my statements such that this "get laid" advice  - more properly, "deal with your sexual partnership issues in general in your life, so that it ain't no big thing at the game table" - applies BOTH ways.  ALL ways, to bring the wide variety of individualy-varying human sexual attraction into it.  My experience is that females looking at males at the game table as sexual partners first, gamers second, is not uncommon.  Entirely different dynamic, given the nature of our society, but still, "get laid" (in the broad sense) remains advice for everone, not just to help males with females in gaming.  It's advice to help humans dealing with humans, period.

On the empathy thing - many appologies if it didn't come across in my other posts, but HELL YEAH, I feel for women that had to deal with some of the game groups I ran across in the eighties.  *I* felt degraded just being around some of 'em, I can only imagine what a woman in that situation would feel like.  And I'm sure such groups are still out there - SOME current RPG product almost seems to cater to 'em - and I'm just grateful I don't see 'em much anymore.

Gordon
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C. Edwards
Member

Posts: 558

savage / sublime


« Reply #97 on: December 06, 2002, 01:40:08 PM »

Gareth,

contracycle wrote:
Quote
I am well aware of what you wrote, and you were not quoted out of context. You are now asserting a postion I regard as absurd; please provide some evidence to support your claim that prejudice is inherent to the human condition, and specifically that this arises from hardwiring.


Well, due to your acidic approach to “discourse” and your insistence that you did not quote me out of context when the opposite is obviously true, I quite frankly don’t care what you find absurd.  There is plenty of scientific data on the subject if you wish to educate yourself on the matter but I will not waste my time with someone who seems to revel in their own hostility.  


Perplexed and saddened,

-Chris
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Clay
Member

Posts: 550


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« Reply #98 on: December 06, 2002, 02:00:39 PM »

Quote from: Gordon C. Landis
Well, I think we can keep that monkey brain in check, somewhat, or at the very least I don't want "monkey brain" to be an excuse for unacceptable conduct.  Still - I agree, we shouldn't fool ourselves, either.


I should make it clear that the problem wasn't through verbal communication or overt action. My experience has been that communication about sexual interest is largely non-verbal.  No communication of sexual interest was ever verbal at the gaming table. There was nothing that could be perceived as sexual harrassment in any way. I wasn't sporting wood, or saying "nice ass, can I use it for a hat?"  It's hard to lie through non-verbal communication though, unless you study it very carefully, and have a lot more control over your body than I have.  So even if my words never said I was interested, everything else did.
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Clay Dowling
RPG-Campaign.com - Online Campaign Planning and Management
Walt Freitag
Member

Posts: 1039


« Reply #99 on: December 06, 2002, 03:22:46 PM »

Chris and Gareth,

Things are getting a little flamey looking here. In a thread that Clinton has said he fears could tear the Forge apart, that makes me very nervous.

Would it help if I were to point out that the exact point you're disagreeing on has been a source of bitter dispute for decades throughout the social sciences? It's nature versus nurture, and guess what: there's a huge amount of credible and complex evidence on both sides.

For one evolutionary psychologist's view, see "The Blank Slate: The Modern Denial of Human Nature" by Steven Pinker (Viking, 2002, ISBN 0-670-03151-8). He discusses not only the position he regards as moderate, which is that both genes and environment determine human behavior, but also the cultural struggle surrounding that issue which has resulted (for reasons he believes are outside of science) in that same position being regarded by many as extreme. If I recall his arguments correctly, chief among those reasons is the fear that acknowledging any amount of genetic influence on behavior would be seen as justifying undesirable behavior. Sounds to me a lot like what you guys (and also Clinton, in other threads) are arguing about.

Now, you're both smarter than the average bear, but nonetheless I doubt that you'll be able to resolve this question on a Forge thread. But if you can, I hope you have a few moments to spare to solve the Israeli-Palestinian problem, which should be a piece of cake by comparison. :-)

- Walt
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Ziriel
Member

Posts: 28


« Reply #100 on: December 06, 2002, 04:13:24 PM »

In the interest of not wanting to post anything nonconstructive I considered saying nothing about this, but it just bothered me too much...  

Begin rant:

What the hell?!  I've read MK's parody of women in gaming where she used homosexual men as the example.  Yes, I think it drove home the point fairly well.  Yes, I got the point; it was not missed on me I assure you.  However, am I the only one who found it an offensive representation of homosexual men?  

MK, this iz in no way an attack against you or your point, because I know that it was not meant to be taken that way.  I just feel I need to say that it really pissed me off.  This portrayal iz exactally the kind of stereotyping that homosexuals have to fight against all of the time.  And it bothers me that no one noticed it (or if they did they said nothing).  In my eyes it iz identical to the type of treatment that we are on here rallying against except that it has to do with sexual orientation instead of gender.

End rant.

I will write a more constructive post later once I've regained my equalibrium.  I just needed to get that out of my system and I don't require any apologies.
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- Ziriel

Personal Rule #32:   13 people can keep a secret  if 12 of them are dead.
Jason Lee
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Posts: 729


« Reply #101 on: December 06, 2002, 04:44:01 PM »

I'd also like to add that I'm seeing a tendancy to link sexual assault to sexism.  No one has directly stated this, but I feel the implication and I'd like to warn against it.  Saying rape is a sexist behavior is like saying splitting someone's skull with a baseball bat is like not liking baseball.

As we all know, rape is a crime of both emotional and physical violence.

Physical violence is a 'soft' sort of violence, one we are desensitized to...in the confines of our little game universes a cracked skull is isolated from the player.

Emotional violence upon a character can have the direct impact of emotional violence on the player - just as me discussing the topic subjects you to a minor bit of emotional violence.  If you are subjecting your players to a level of emotional violence beyond their comfort level this is in no way discrimination - it is a lack of emotional sensitivity in relating to the individual (not the definition of that individual, which would be discrimination).  If a player has a nine month old son, and you murder his character's baby in a gruesome manner you will be inflicting him with emotional violence he as a player has to deal with.  Rape just happens to be the sort of emotional violence you can be pretty certain is going to make a woman uncomfortable.

We can all agree that the group must decide on the level of emotional violence they are willing to handle as players.  This I see as a completely seperate issue from sexism.
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- Cruciel
Uncle Dark
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« Reply #102 on: December 06, 2002, 09:55:33 PM »

Ziriel-

Speaking as a queer man into leather, I wasn't particularly offended.  Mind you, I don't claim to speak for all of my tribe, but hey, I found it funny.

Cruciel-
Sexual assault and sexism are intimately linked.  Threat of sexual violence underlies a lot of the fear and frustration that many women feel in situations where men make them uncomfortable.  This threat is usually not overt, nor is it usually personal.  Most often it is implied by experience. This experience may be personal, or it may be indirect, from stories or warnings from other women and the culture in general.

It works something like this:  Every woman has heard the story of the woman who was raped at a party that "just got out of hand."  Jokes and rowdiness changed to sexual jokes and harassment, changed to inappropriate touching, to manhandling, to rape.

Note that sexual jokes and harrassment is step two of the path that leads to rape.  Once the (unwanted/inappropriate) sexual jokes start at the gaming table, alarm bells are already going off for most women.

Now, this is not to say that every woman faced with sexism is in mortal fear.  Most are just annoyed.  Most will write it off as bad behavior, and trust that the situation isn't really going that way.  But the thought, the alarm, is still there.

So while it could be argued that not all rape is sexist (although the fact that 1 man is raped for every 10 or so women implies that sexism plays some role), fear of rape and threat of rape plays a role in why sexist behavior is so offensive.

Lon
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MK Snyder
Member

Posts: 116


« Reply #103 on: December 06, 2002, 10:04:45 PM »

Z, absolutely, it is a terrible portrayal of homosexuals. It is not an accurate portrayal of homosexual men and never was intended to be such.

It may be a fairly accurate portrayal of some heterosexual men's homophobia, though. During the debate some years ago about the status of Gays in the US Armed Forces, I was quite impressed with how worried defenders of the "straight only" policy were that homosexual men would make unwanted advances on fellow soldiers.

My interpretation, slanted as it is, was that many heterosexual men were projecting their own attitudes towards servicewomen in this anxiety.

As for rape as assault...well, the potential for rape as a threat is used differently in our society between men and women in general. As I have moved to more male-centered workplaces, I have been quite struck with how often anal rape metaphors are used in the workplace between straight men. Yet, statistically speaking, they face a much lower chance of actually being raped than does any woman; certainly as an element of domestic violence or dating gone bad.

Plus, one must consider the role of rape in fantasy, law, and storytelling. Rape is a common sexual fantasy of nonviolent nonpredatory individuals of both genders that has nothing in common with the motivations behind the actual psychology of active rapists. Especially when we are talking about adolescent males who may be introducing rape of females as a way to introduce sexuality, period.  

There is also the dimension of rape as damage to one's man property by another man; as a political/military statement of contempt; and as seizing another culture's reproductive assets.

In terms of gaming, the problem is not that rape is "more awful than death" or other forms of assault; the problem is that it is a specific form of assault that is disproportionally dealt to female characters over male characters *and* that it is also a form of assault female players must realistically cope with every day. Not only on their own behalf, but also in offering support to friends and family who have experienced sexual assaults.

Males have the mirror stress, as of yet unaddressed, of frequently being seen as potential predators. Men must censor their physical movements and statements concerning emotional intimacy so as not to be misinterpreted; this takes a toll on mental and physical health too. Men are not permitted to seek as easily the emotional support and connection that women are allowed to request of their friends.

Another thread beckons: how comfortable are male players with playing characters in emotions? Can they exhibit grief? Comeradery? Can your character hug his Dad?
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MK Snyder
Member

Posts: 116


« Reply #104 on: December 06, 2002, 10:11:25 PM »

Quote from: cruciel
 If a player has a nine month old son, and you murder his character's baby in a gruesome manner you will be inflicting him with emotional violence he as a player has to deal with.  Rape just happens to be the sort of emotional violence you can be pretty certain is going to make a woman uncomfortable.

We can all agree that the group must decide on the level of emotional violence they are willing to handle as players.  This I see as a completely seperate issue from sexism.


Excellent point. I cannot stand "Kids in Jeopardy" plotting of any sort, in any medium. Vampire:The Masquerade impressed me quite a bit when it first came out, but I was forced to admit at the time, "No way could I play this!" when I considered that a parent-turned-vampire would most likely victimize her own children.
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