Hi, I’m Mike Knapp. Some of you know me as KarlDark or Hida Kenshiro. Crymson Pleasure asked me to write a guest piece for the Real Women of Gaming… and i forgot about it after two weeks of trying to figure out what i could write that hasn’t already been written. She recently pressed me again to finish the piece. She asked me, “Do you think women are treated equally when it comes to gaming in general?” My answer was, “No. Not very often. When they are main characters, they are all too often unrealistic boobtacular badasses that never evoke emotions other than lust or envy. Then, when they aren’t the protagonist, they are plot devices. True, every story needs a plot device and, while i dislike the ‘woman in refrigerator’ syndrome, it would be nice to see women simply exist in a game.”
Now, obviously this answer is only about games and not the gaming industry or it’s culture. In recent days, Anita Sarkisian had to leave her home because she dares to point out how women are treated badly sometimes in games and some people don’t know how to express their disagreement with her other than threatening her life or worse. This is not how adults conduct themselves. Even I am guilty of losing my temper… bipolar disorder is kinda ridiculous. I try every day to get better and not forget that I am talking to another human being. Too often we dehumanize those we disagree with and we use this to justify the horrible things we say or do.
I don’t always agree with Anita Sarkisian. I disagreed with her recent critique of Watch Dogs based mostly on the fact that taking down criminals as a vigilante is what that game is about, so there has to be criminals. I feel the man beating up the girl could easily be gender swapped with no difference in feel. The player is given the role of Bringer of Justice. Of course, not everyone cares enough to help someone in need… that isn’t an issue we discuss enough, but, sadly, that’s not what this piece is about. So, I will say this: we’re all human beings and our differences are only superficial… so help your fellow humans. Anyway, in a game where you are the decider of right and wrong, everyone else in the game is a plot device, not just the ladies.
Most games nowadays have a narrative you can follow, or, in the case of Final Fantasy 13, you can’t really follow it, but you just tolerate it because you hope it will eventually get better… Where there is a narrative, there is a need for plot devices. Whether it is Maid Marian or Elsa or the hooker standing on the street corner in GTA holding that jealousy-inducing sex toy, there is a role to play in the story of the game.
I really dig Fable. I only ever played the first one, though. However, the ability to have my game choices affect my characters morality was (for me) awesome. I tend to be neutral-minded, not minding if I do evil to achieve a goal, provided evil was more appropriate than good,however it rarely is. I think games could go a long way to teaching people to have a better moral fiber and, no, I ain’t talking about some silly shit that comes from a 2000 year old book. I’m an atheist with a moral code stronger than most people I have met and the conviction to consistently follow it. Just like most games, getting to here wasn’t easy for me. I had to make mistakes over and over again.
Here is where I address my privilege… Yup, I’m white and male. I’m not gonna pretend I understand the experiences of women. I can only listen and empathize. I recommend everyone take this approach. Compassion is humanity’s greatest strength next to adaptability. Next time you read something you don’t agree with, try stating your point rationally and stop comparing people to NAZIs. There, I godwin’d my own article. Anywho, everyone’s opinion should be heard. If you can’t agree, that’s fine. You don’t have to pay attention to people you don’t like. Be your own block button.