With convention season in full swing, and our own visit to C2E2 coming up in a few weeks, I want to talk a little bit about bullying and harassment at conventions. These events attract a lot of people. In 2014, C2E2 alone boasted about 63,000 attendees. It’s only natural that a few bad eggs will show up in a batch that large. Just this year at MagFest, a cosplayer was harassed for dressing as Vivian James, a sort of mascot for The Fine Young Capitalists as well as the online consumer revolt against corrupt gaming journalists. This is just the most recent case of problems at conventions around the world. Taking this in perspective, conventions receive a great deal of scrutiny because they are supposed to be a place where people gather to share interests, fun, hobbies, and build a network. In reality, it is like a small city descending on an area, sometimes no bigger than a city block, policed by staff who really aren’t police. I’ve been going to conventions for years now, and despite the size, scope, and all the horror stories, they tend to be relatively safe, but that doesn’t mean we should take the atmosphere of a convention for granted.
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First of all I would like to thank Crymson Pleasure, and the Real Women of Gaming for the opportunity to give a male perspective on female gamers and females in gaming. I know, that sounds strange, a male perspective. I’ve seen arguments and debates end with a line similar to – you’re a man, what right do you have to comment on women’s issues. I know that reaction is the extreme, but it does leave many of us standing outside the issue, not even wanting to engage, and I imagine some women feel the same way. When you don’t agree, 100%, with the most vocal in any issue it’s easy to feel ostracized by their reaction. However, out of respect for those same women gamers we support and love, I want to give my honest views, without the fears or PC coating. With respect comes the realization that patronizing or condescending statements, or weak statements that commit to nothing at all, are neither honest nor respectful.
How are female stereotypes in gaming having a positive or negative impact? That’s tough because we first have to identify which are good or bad, but it’s unfair to do that without asking why they are there in the first place. Stereotypes exist because someone, more likely many someones, existed that are just like that. To tell a true and engaging story in a game you need to include ‘real’ people. Is the trashy bimbo in the game because the story requires a trashy bimbo or because the creator wanted eye-candy? Is she a negative stereotype, or an integral part of telling a realistic story because trashy bimbos really do exist. Is it the creator’s responsibility to only present empowering images or is it also our responsibility as adults, parents, and gamers to teach each other and the younger generation to recognize the difference? To me it’s a little bit of both. You can’t have the positive without the negative. You can’t explain why the strong, intelligent heroine is positive without the trashy, flaky eye-candy. Hells, reverse the genders in that statement and how is it any different? That’s part of story telling – the good and the bad, the dark and light, righteous and evil, right? But, if the trashy bimbo is there because the marketing team wants more digitized breasts in the game then the image is completely unnecessary and we’ve delved into the realm of a harmful as well as negative stereotype that has no place in the art. Read the rest of this entry