Let me preface this (waves hands) ALL of this by saying that RPS has directed me to more games I like than any other site. They are doing a real service to independent games. The last game that the two of us both loved, after some rushed consultation (Don has one finger on the “dump caller” button even when it is instant messaging) was Air/Sea Battle for the Atari. It’s hard for us to find common ground, but RPS manages to find a way.
However, Rock Paper Shotgun has been on a social justice kick recently. Of course, we’re not supposed to call it a “kick,” because that implies that social justice isn’t the cause du jour meant to bully other people into being ashamed and thinking exactly how you think. How could you be against sexism, racism and bullying??? Social justice is a Livestrong bracelet, but the ICU hasn’t turned on Lance yet.
Social justice has never and will never change anything. Most people are trying to get through to JOOOOOCKS through the comfort of their bedrooms, so you have to unironically credit Nathan Grayson of RPS for trying to confront game developers directly — since he left his house to do it. In a world where straight white cis males are a vicious line of tanks, Nathan Grayson is the Chinese guy who stood in front of them.
Here’s his interview with the guys making something called Heroes of the Storm. Since it is an “x of the y” title, I hate it and hope that everyone involved becomes homeless, and not the cool kind of homeless where you have a great Movember beard and could get laid by other street trash if it were cold enough.
As time is winding down, Nathan tries to cram in a few questions about how the girls in the game look like hookers or something. Dustin Browder, also known as the guy who designed Starcraft II, the best e-sport game ever made, does not wish to ENGAGE. He also does not want to be rude, but there really is nothing to be gained by engaging Nathan here. Zero.
RPS: You have some interesting alternate outfits for heroes. Roller Derby Nova, especially, caught my eye. On its own, that’s totally fine – just a silly, goofy thing. A one-off. But it got me thinking about how often MOBAs tend to hyper-sexualize female characters to a generally preposterous degree – that is to say, make it the norm, not a one-off at all – and StarCraft’s own, um, interesting focus choices as of late. How are you planning to approach all of that in Heroes?
Browder: Well, I mean, some of these characters, I would argue, are already hyper-sexualized in a sense. I mean, Kerrigan is wearing heels, right? We’re not sending a message to anybody. We’re just making characters who look cool. Our sensibilities are more comic book than anything else. That’s sort of where we’re at. But I’ll take the feedback. I think it’s very fair feedback.
RPS: I have to add, though, that comics might not be the best point of reference for this sort of thing. I mean, it’s a medium that’s notorious – often in a not-good way – for sexing up female characters and putting them in some fairly gross situations.
Browder: We’re not running for President. We’re not sending a message. No one should look to our game for that.
RPS: But it’s not even about a message. The goal is to let people have fun in an environment where they can feel awesome without being weirded out or even objectified. This is a genre about empowerment. Why shouldn’t everyone feel empowered? That’s what it’s about at the end of the day: letting everyone have a fair chance to feel awesome.
Browder: Uh-huh. Cool. Totally.
[PR says we’ve run over, tells me I have to leave]
RPS: Thank you for your time.
First off, I imagine the PR person wheeling Nathan’s chair backwards while all this is going on, trying to fake-laugh over Nathan tediously talking about these extremely important women’s rights issues. In his head: “I HAVE A DREAM!” Out his mouth: “Umm okay b— okay.” If you want to read all of his staircase wit, it’s here.
Secondly, I love that Dustin blew him off with a “Cool story, bro.” Because that is the sort of reply you should expect when you start quoting memes, telling people the flavor of drink you want is Hitler Did Nothing Wrong or attempting to go full tumblr on a guy with an office job.
Chicks in tight pants in games doesn’t make the player sexist any more than shooting people in games makes the player a murderer. None of it matters and nobody’s opinion will ever change. There’s the jackasses, who, BEFORE THIS CHICKS IN PANTS THINGS BECAME THE MOST IMPORTANT THING EVER, the most important thing ever was shouting at the rooftops that GAMES DON’T FUCK YOU UP. They are now suddenly crying out, “NOT THE SAME THING!! This really DOES fuck you up!!”
I’m sorry that 90% of the chicks at conventions come dressed as Cammy from Street Fighter. I’m sorry that the rest come naked, except for whatever sticks to their skin on the cab ride over. Nerds are disgusting animals around girls and our solution is to stop having game conventions, where half of this shit arises from. Nobody will do that because of money. Nobody will stop putting their female characters in bikinis because they make more money when they’re dressed that way.
A games site trying to change how people think is adorable, but trying to change the way money is made is futile. That said, I think RPS ought to continue to have these interviews, but at least have the balls to start with these questions. I want their first probes into a new ware to be about how exploited women are because the girl from “Beyond Good & Evil 2″ might be wearing lip gloss, the discount aluminum siding of the patriarchy. Lead with this shit, if that’s what you want your site to be about. Just make this what the site is about, since that is what the site is about. You’re not going to change how a single person thinks, but if you really think you can then go for it.
(Polygon gives this article an 8/10.)
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The Warezwolf and Don Rogers