There's no sexism in gaming

Why don’t you just enjoy the fantasy? Games are a special medium, completely separate from our wider culture and any attempt to put them in context is just insulting.

I am tired of all this "sexism in gaming" crap that has come up recently. Reasonable people know that fantasy has nothing to do with reality: believing otherwise infantilises us and treats us as if we cannot distinguish one from the other. People who are outraged about this latest ‘gaming drama’ need a severe reality check: those masculists simply seek out reasons to get upset all the time. The "disembodied bloody crotch in Speedos" outrage went too far, for a start.

A resin model of someone’s disembodied crotch isn’t hurting anyone. It’s simply something to put on one’s mantelpiece and enjoy. People sometimes ask me about mine when I am hosting dinner: and I say, ‘Oh yes, haha. I’m a gamer,’ and that’s the end of the conversation. One of my male friends left dinner early once because of it; his girlfriend apologised for him and said that he’d once been sexually assaulted and that he was just really sensitive about this sort of thing. We both shook our heads about it. “I’m so glad we have freedom of speech,” she said to me, ‘the Nazis wouldn’t have allowed this to be made. He’ll get over it - he’s just really emotional about that stuff."

The males who say they they are not represented by our videogame heroines are merely ignoring the fact that women have all the disposable income. Despite this, they whine and whine about how they would like to see Alex Vance actually do something in his scenes in the game, instead of fawn and flirt with our heroine Freewoman. Can’t they just enjoy the fantasy? It’s no reflection on real life: no women really shoot alien headcrabs in laboratory settings, and neither do males occupy secondary positions in most parts of our society and sit around to gratify our need to become pregnant. That would be absurd. Fantasy is not reality: we go to our games to get away from reality. Why don’t you just enjoy the fantasy? Games are a special medium, completely separate from our wider culture and any attempt to put them in context is just insulting.

Furthermore, reasonable people would see that asking to put male soldiers in the Call of Duty series is simply not do-able. Since the age of the Amazon, women have waged wars, because they have a higher pain threshold than males and have more stamina in every area of war. Who would take a male Battlefield seriously? Including men would simply cloud the matter; when crawling through tunnels, as is often necessary in war, our eyes would fall on the male backside - from then on women would be irreparably compromised.

 

I mean, who would take this guy seriously a soldier?

 

To anyone getting their boxers in a bunch over this, I say: buy the games with the male protagonists. There are at least four of them. They are attractive, virile boy characters with a lot going for them. Show us you mean business by buying those titles. Lawrence Croft is still an icon: that bulging crotch and tight ass, the washboard abs - what more could you want to identify with? He’s everything you aspire to. And those of you who complain we didn’t put any clothes on him - he became an icon because of that lack of clothes! And Lawrence Croft has trousers now, think about that. Women’s interest in a sexy, provocative young male is what gave Lawrence Croft his iconic status. Stop asking for special treatment by the games industry, we are making the best games in whatever way we see fit.

Anyway, you guys wouldn't even have videogames without women. Remember that. With Ada Lovelace at our head, we invented the technology that makes them possible. The majority of the games industry is populated by hardworking, talented women who have been producing the best interactive experiences for 20 years. Why shouldn’t we make videogames where we can look at sinewy, naked males who moan sexually when we toy with them? Why don’t you start your own games industry where you can make your male-led games about football and the colour blue? Perhaps then we will stop making jokes about how you can get back in the kitchen and take the bins out.

It's only men who can't get laid that complain about all this, let's face it. My boyfriend enjoys when I play games where the male character is sexy and capable. Do yourself a favour: stop being so uptight and humourless. Games are a special medium, don’t spoil them by trying to change the way they are made. Separate them from your masculist politics and sit back down on the couch. This ‘sexism’ in technology doesn’t exist.

Cara Ellison is a writer for Rock Paper Shotgun and other sites. She tweets: @carachan1

Lawrence Croft, as imagined by ulysses0302 on deviantart.
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Harry Styles: What can three blank Instagram posts tell us about music promotion?

Do the One Direction star’s latest posts tell us about the future of music promotion in the social media age - or take us back to a bygone era?

Yesterday, Harry Styles posted three identical, captionless blank images to Instagram. He offered no explanation on any other social network, and left no clue via location serves or tagged accounts as to what the pictures might mean. There was nothing about any of the individual images that suggested they might have significance beyond their surface existence.

And, predictably, they brought in over a million likes – and thousands of Styles fans decoding them with the forensic dedication of the cast of Silent Witness.

Of course, the Instagrams are deliberately provocative in their vagueness. They reminded me of Robert Rauschenberg’s three-panelled White Painting (1951), or Robert Ryman’s Untitled, three square blank canvases that hang in the Pompidou Centre. The composer John Cage claimed that the significance of Rauschenberg’s White Paintings lay in their status as receptive surfaces that respond to the world around them. The significance of Styles’s Instagrams arguably, too, only gain cultural relevance as his audience engages with them.

So what did fans make of the cryptic posts? Some posited a modelling career announcement would follow, others theorised that it was a nod to a Taylor Swift song “Blank Space”, and that the former couple would soon confirm they were back together. Still more thought this suggested an oncoming solo album launch.

You can understand why a solo album launch would be on the tip of most fans’ tongues. Instagram has become a popular platform for the cryptic musical announcement — In April, Beyoncé teased Lemonade’s world premiere with a short Instagram video – keeping her face, and the significance behind the title Lemonade, hidden.

Creating a void is often seen as the ultimate way to tease fans and whet appetites. In June last year, The 1975 temporarily deleted their Instagram, a key platform in building the band’s grungy, black and white brand, in the lead up to the announcement of their second album, which involved a shift in aesthetic to pastel pinks and bright neons.

The Weekend wiped his, too, just last week – ahead of the release of his new single “Starboy”. Blank Instagrams are popular across the network. Jaden Smith has posted hundreds of them, seemingly with no wider philosophical point behind them, though he did tweet in April last year, “Instagram Is A BlackHole Of Time And Energy.”

The motive behind Harry’s blank posts perhaps seems somewhat anticlimactic – an interview with magazine Another Man, and three covers, with three different hairstyles, to go along with it. But presumably the interview coincides with the promotion of something new – hopefully, something other than his new film Dunkirk and the latest update on his beloved tresses. In fact, those blank Instagrams could lead to a surprisingly traditional form of celebrity announcement – one that surfaces to the world via the print press.

Anna Leszkiewicz is a pop culture writer at the New Statesman.