Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Links: Social games and what's wrong with them




Saturday, May 29, 2010

What happens in vegas stays in vegas?

"Prepare to cross steel!"
"Oh honey you couldn't afford it!

An article based off of the minor controversy sparked by bethesda, followed by this article and the responding forum thread:

My own article is a direct riposte to the views expressed in the thread.

First things first; I'm not questioning the lawful RIGHT of people to laugh at stuff, like, fucking anything they want. I just want to make people understand what my two cents are in the matter at hand and also make others more sensitive to the concerns of others and what effect the inclusion of sub groups of people that are already kicked on can have for the sub groups themselves and also others. I apologize beforehand of the de-identification of specific people in this thread; I don't want to lump you together, but I'm to lazy to quote specific people. Also, even if the creation of tabitha wsn't malicious, the response of many gamers is enough for the article which is refered to at the beggining of the thread to be justified, because it creates discussion which I belive is needed in the video game community where many things are seen as just entertainment and just fun where it simply is not for some members.

"It never takes long for someone to play up something in Fallout for controversy."

True for fallout, and video games in general. True for video games that already had one controversy and therefore are used (especially by media) as sacrificial lamb or discouraging examples.

Nontheless, here is your first transperson, and an offended one for that matter! I'd like to play down the fact that I'm a transgendered person though, because I'd like to argue that people have a right to be offended or concerned even if the matter at hand doesn't concern them "directly". I'd like sto start out with Godwins law so we can get that out of the way: Chaplin once got the question "Are you a jew?" and gave a very honest and thoughtfull answer: "No, I don't have that honor".

Taking an example from my own political practice as an autonymous leftist/libertarian/anarchist (in Sweden mind you, so don't worry). I often have to relate to the problem of representability in my political activism; since representative democracy is not good enough for the world I want to life in, and even demonstrations are controled to some extent by the organizors and the holders of the megaphone, and the ones with flags and messages on a stick/piece of cloth, what can the outside viewer or even those inside the protesting take for granted concerning the participants and what they stand for? Like coalition building, it simply is erronoumous to assume that people that are in close physical viscinity (in a political context) all stand for the same opinions or way of action or even have the same motives behind the course the protest or media contact should be taking. You do remember the old goodies right?, ”Assuming makes an ass out of you and me!” But to some extent the protest or supported action of others, even though they don't agree with your political agenda to 100%, can be valueable and important.

These thoughts and practices apply even when I alone go to a different part of town than the one I live in and want to stop some construction workers from tearing down a house in which squatters have settled down; since I want (political and other) power and democracy to be decentrialized and developed in a grass roots fashion, from the people and not politicians, to a bigger extent, I too get the problem of representaiton. Shouldn't I just stay the fuck outta the neighbourhood which isn't ”mine” and in which the squatters live? Isn't it the responsibility of the inhabitants of that neighbourhood to stand up against the authorities, and me going there is encroaching upon their autonomy? Isn't it arrogant of me to think that I know better or that the inhabitants of that neighbour don't have the power to stand up for themselves? Independent of how I answer those questions, what the auhthorities do in their area, it still affects me. Since no-one in that area wanted to squat the abandonded building, and someone else did, well, for me that opens up for a different understanding of room and ”ownership”. And what the authorities do anywhere affects people everywhere; it affects the media, it affects the inhibitants of the neighbourhood, it affects what the authorities get away with/what they learn/their sense of superiority, and it sure as hell affects me specifically because their jurisdiction may become bigger, theirs rights extended, while at the same time my rights will be broken down piece by piece.

I don't know if it's an typical american thing (and I don't mean that as an insult, rather as a query) that people should only respond to offences made against them personally, but I do find it to be a slippery slope; if you don't protect the rights of others and they get silenced, when it comes to protecting your own rights, it just may be the case that all the others have no power left to help you and it all goes to bonkers.

Ok, enough with the melodrama, this question isn't as serious for me as some of you probably think by now, I'm just drawing parallels and hoping that you appreciate my train of thoughts or at least my effort of trying to make myself understandable. I certainly don't want to feed the potential mutants if that has crossed anyones mind! :P I especilly don't want to feed the mutants of the transsexual maffia; in Sweden they are a fucking bitch, always talking about the ”genuin transsexual”, medical conditions backed up by weird conclusions based on inconclusive biological studies, and so forth.

”Did you also notice how the players hatred of green-skinned Super Mutants dovetails nicely with the American prejudice towards coloreds? ”

This is another potential area that could be problematizised. Just because one person doesn't adress ALL issues doesn't make a specific issue less significant or logical to adress. Others have adressed the race issue already, although I have not reference to back up that statement.
”Surely the complainer has a point, or else clothes wouldn't magically change gender to match the sex of the character in Beth games. ”

I agree with this! My critique isn't necessarily dependant on the fact whether tabitha is identified as transgendered or not; by human standards, those through which we view other characters, even if they are of a different race!. I've seen people laugh at for example the lama in the emperors groove when zie (gender neutral pronoun, I apply it to everyone, don't put to much into it) wears women clothes, and the emperor is as much human as tabitha so why shouldn't people be laughing at tabitha? Clothes or lipstick are an important signifier of gender identification in most societies. What's important is not only authorial intentions, butthe average players understanding of the situation/game at hand. And btw, why the hell do all mutants look like men?

”Well, I guess neutral gender is gender. ”

I'd argue that neutral gender is gender, yes, simply because the binary coding of our society and the need for most people to gender others is such a big part of daily life. Sure that many don't even think about it, but this is because people usually adhere to the rules and conventions concerning gender, but I who do not get the question of whether I'm a boy or girl very often, and people simply refuse to acknowledge sometimes that I don't define myself as either, or that what I have in my pants is not information I wish to part with, and I get stones and threats thrown at me from time to time because of this.

”And btw. who can seriously say that is 100% not a little racist, xenophobe or homophobe?

Indeed; I am a bit racist and a bit heterophobic (since I'm a dyke it makes sense I guess, in a twisted way). I critisize my self and try to understand my feelings; does this take away from the argument at hand?

”In truth this is more of an identity crisis than anything. ” (concerning tabitha)

Since many people I've come across believe that gender dysphoria IS in fact an identity crisis (or psychological illness, as in Sweden), tabithas use of lipstick COULD still be playing the transgender card or at least be understood in the narrative and context of trangendered people and as such still be the object of disdain and humor.

”But its a game, its meant to be entertaining ”

Ok, so I don't agree that games should necessarily be entertaining, or only entertaining, but perhaps we have different definitions of the word or simply do not agree. Anywhos: even if something is meant to be entertaining, I still feel that I want to make others aware of how I believe representation and creation of art, games, whatever, may affect real people in the real word, and why it could be disrespectfull to create something that blatantly disregards the complexities of the question at hand, or simply includes the character/stereotype to make others laugh at it. To some extent I'm only speculating concerning the intentions of the creators of the expansion, which brings me to an adjacent point.

Something along the lines of... ”we don't know how the final game will be.”

This is a valid point, although it's doubtful that tabitha would be a character that adresses the issues I'm adressing, or the complexity of transgenderism, I conclusion I draw especially after reading bethesdas mail answer:

”And seriously, we have a world where human life has no value, where orphans live alone, hungry, a world where there's no medical aid, people die of hunger, thirst or diseases that are a mere nuissance today, and this individual complains about making fun of this freak or the other?

The orphans, hunger and death is contextualized in a different way in fallout 3! The hunt for resources breeds desperation, xenophobia, different political affiliations are struggling, and human nature shows its ugly face. How is tabitha contextualized and explained exactly? We do not know, but the effort is in mainstream art often very sub par. And coming up to someone and shooting their face is a trope of video games and FPS games especially, which can be understood in the light of game mechanics and of course the post apocalyptic setting, whereas the inclusion of transgendered people who seem to be there only to humor others is not part of the trope of video games but rather a part of the mainstream society that is transphobic and barely believe in the rights of gay people to be fullfledged members of society, and even less respected for who they are. Both gay people and transgendered people are most often included just for the funsies, are are stereotypical. I think it was in scary movie or not another teen movie where there was this black guy screaming ”that is wack all the time”, and at a party there was another black guy and they started a meta kind of conversation where they discussed the fact that there should only be ONE black guy in a movie where they finally decided on which one should stay in this specific scene!

”You don't see anybody bitching about the lack of Mexicans in Fallout 3 now do you. ”

Oh, they're incorporated alrite-they're the zombies! XD

”And I'm pretty sure gender identification is not an action. ”

Well, no, yes. It is an action to acknowledge a specific identifiaction, to choose it, and represent it. Tabitha chooses to make it visible, somehow, I'm assuming. Maybe zie doesn't and just wears lipstick for the fun of it or to throw of hirs enemies, but most of the time transgender identification entails actions such as clothing and behavioral ”changes”.

”I disagree with the assertion that any group of people is never funny.”

I agree! I too find transgender people who try their hardest to pass for the sex they identify as laughable sometimes! Or tragic, rather; some people are destructive in this way as they do not acknowledge that gender identity is not either-or and in this process of change and need of passability they strip apart their personality until there is only the archetypical WOMAN or MAN. This I apply even to people who aren't transgendered though (i.e cisgendered) and I believe that gender stereotypes disncourage others to try out things which may be constructive to their lives, I know it stopped me from doing a bunch of stuff while growing up, and makes me stigmatized now that I do them.

Tabitha doesn't look like a girl though, and neither do I to some people, so in order for our gender identity to be known we have a need to make our appearances speficially woman-like. A cisgendered girl with lipstick is probably not frowned upon or laughed at, so I wouldn't say that tabitha is the achetypical woman that is laughable BECAUSE zie is a parody of womenhood, but in the context of being a mutant it certainly is a trope of mainstream transgender representation to laugh at the incongruety of gender mixing. I'm not saying you shouldn't laugh because that would be a very weird approach according to me, a sort of approach that endevours to make people who laugh shamefull of their feelings and actions, which I don not want. I just want people to think about what I'm thinking and perhaps giving someone a drive to be more accepting and respectfull of transgender people by not ONLY laughing but to understand where that comes from and understand that the matter at hand is important for some.

”I went to lunch yesterday not realizing I had left my zipper down. Maybe somebody noticed and laughed. Should I complain? I think not. ”

Why is the left down zipper laughable? I believe it's because people have all these rules concerning the presentation of one-self, rules in orderly conduct, and sometimes people laugh to take off the steam of a situation, to not make people embarressed, to show them that's it's ok, and hoping that also they will return the favor of not making a big thing out of it and laugh at their mistakes in the future. Laughing at tabitha though, well, if someone does that, I don't think its the same reason based on reciprocality at least.

”I gotta say some guys make really hot chicks..... *shudders* ”

That makes two of us! ;) Me, I love when a women has a cock, or at least a very big clit that can be sucked on really hard. ^^ Oh, NSFW I guess.