So… this incredible encapsulation of so many things wrong with “gamer” culture actually happened. An “esports apparel” shop somehow managed to make a dress that was more cheerleader outfit (or chair) and in order to “show respect” to “female gamers” (also known as women) and decided to brand it as a “new identity” as though none of them have worn a dress before. Unsurprisingly, more people liked this amazing parody than the real thing.
They were naturally shocked to discover that most people consider it a good idea to involve women in the design of clothing for women (assuming you’re not aiming for your dress to end up on Game Grumps or you to beg men to give it to a “gamer girl” rather than wear it themselves).
So how did they respond to this? Obviously, by asking for people to literally tell them let them know what “female gamers” (also known as women) wear:
That’s how they hilariously ended up with telling a competitor that they liked their designs as suggestions… apparently not realising that
“female gamers” women who enjoy games can already get comfy clothes and gaming-themed clothes by people who talk to women before releasing the product.
But needless to say, they learned an important lesson about women’s clothing and considerations to make. Certainly not considerations like wanting gaming gear to comfy for hours of sitting around playing games. They learned about marketing, specifically “delivery of tweets”:
So of course, as of the time of this post their ratio’d tweet is… pinned and their most recent “likes” entry was… more like “yikes”.
Yes, literally all they actually learned after a full 24 hours of free feedback is that “female gamers” are women… and frankly I’m not convinced they’re going to remember that when they sober up.
Yikes indeed. There’s… so much to unpack in this and I don’t even know where to start.
I suppose what amuses me the most about this case is that Cranium Apparel somehow could not be assed to involve any women in creating that outfit, yet once called out on casual gender essentialism of selling a cheerleader dress as their exclusive piece of “female gamer” apparel… THEY NOW ASK THEIR FEMALE CRITICS to do the job of marketing team for them for free (and calling feedback they dislike “hate”).
This company desperately needs to replace its PR and marketing departments, preferably with an all-female staff.
Recently, a friend sent me this image. It had been passed on by her boyfriend; it had reminded him of me. One might expect that connection to fill me with satisfaction, that I, a game designer and writer, am instantly associated with forward thinking and feminist ideals. Instead, I felt humiliated.
This is a great article that does a good job of explaining exactly why arguments excusing ”sexy armor” are invalid and altogether ridiculous.
This awesome article not only thoroughly explains why there’s no way to logically justify sexualization of female characters in video games, but also highlights the struggles that women in the industry go through:
The thing is, in this industry, you don’t want to be “that girl.” The world has communicated very thoroughly, with Anita Sarkeesian’s death threats, with so many comments on Kotaku, and with comments in the hallways of the workplace and the podiums of conventions, that being “that girl” is bad. Real bad. Potentially end of career bad.
But it’s not just dangerous for potential ramifications on career trajectory. There’s also a social component of how “that girl” is insufferable, annoying, and should be punishable by shaming.
Many female game designers, anonymously and publicly alike, confess how they have to deal with sexist standards of the industry, just so they can keep their jobs. It’s a legit problem that men, especially the ones chanting “sex sells!” or “it’s intended for male gamers!”, are either blissfully unaware of or willfully ignorant (my bets are on the latter option, though).
Please guys, read the whole thing.
People are often quick to dismiss arguments against the conventional wisdom that “sex sells” as “politically correct” idealism. But one of the most compelling argument against the slogan comes from the other side of the political spectrum.
David Ogilvy was one of, if not The great iconic Ad Men of the 1960’s. Unsurprisingly he was deeply invested in the idea of gender roles and claimed “I am less offended by obscenity than by tasteless typography, banal photographs, clumsy copy, and cheap jingles”. He also (literally) wrote the book on how to create effective advertising and measure the effectiveness of your advertising.
He was, amazingly, admantly against introducing sex to sell any product that wasn’t inherently sexual in itself for one simple reason:
All his research and experience in advertising told him it would not work.
What did Ogilvy very sincerely believed was the first step in creating effective advertising an massive sales? To create a high quality product.
That way all that was required was to sincerely show the customers why it was a great product and the rest would take care of itself.
So when developers distort their products (comics, books, movies, video games, etc) by cramming sexualised imagery into them with the mentality of “sex sells” so “more sex will sell even more” they are actually sabotaging their product’s reception, reputation, sales and it’s marketing campaigns.
At least according to an old white man from the 1960s who always assumed women should be house wives… and also happened to be one of the greatest thinkers in advertising.
Bringing it back particularly because it mentions how it is a professional suicide
for women in the industry to call out sexism in game design and narrative.
And, in light Jessica Price’s of ArenaNet firing, we learned how even talking back to a male gamer community member can lead to the same.
Sadly, we still operate firmly in the reality where “sex” (or rather: erosion of female self-esteem) is considered a marketing booster and women speaking out for themselves in any way get shoved aside, so we don’t have to have the uncomfortable conversation that maybe they have a point.
Couldn’t help but make this joke out of the accompanying image from the Jessica Price article linked above.
Don’t know if the writer did it on purpose or not, but thanks!
Okay, so predictably Blizzard has used Blizzcon to announce a new Overwatch character, and now Talon (the bad guys) have a support healer – and surprisingly despite them clearly having recycled a lot of Mercy’s look (with more than little bit of Zarya and a lot of David Bowie… I mean a LOT), they’ve managed to avoid the Evil is Sexy trope this time.
Honestly this design is pretty good but I get the feeling that the boobplate is literally a case of “if no boob, how woman!?” given how refreshingly androgynous Moria looks in most of her origin story and lineup pic
It’s also pretty cool how she fills a big hole in Overwatch lore and meets the outspoken player demand for an evil/amoral healer.
Of course Blizzard took Blizzcon as the opportunity for demonstrating how they’re doing representation of women better in their games and media.
unnamed* redhead with a Disney face who is there to tell him that he doesn’t need to be hero so he can tell her that he totally does.
This is why it’s difficult to believe that, while many of their staff may be trying hard, Jeff Kaplan and Blizzard as an entity care about representation beyond marketing sound bytes and feminist cookies.
Oh, what could have been.
I wish they would have pushed the medical tubing further, instead of just giving her a little tube backpack. Like maybe extending the tubing down her right arm to emphasize that she deals damage with it. Overall, the design is just very…. Safe. And also not angular enough. Look at the origin story screenshot above; angles!
I’m just kind of disappointed, honestly. One more thin, young-looking white woman, and her black/purple color scheme is giving me Morgana flashbacks.
I see this as a consistent problem with many female character additions to Overwatch… Individually, they’re pretty interesting designs (though it’s guaranteed that they looked better, less “safe”, in concept art), but when put together in a group, they turn into this boring blob of young-looking, thin, mostly pale ladies with a token unique feature here and there.
As I said before, I’d take so much less issue with D.Va (cause her pretty girl design is consistent with her teenage idol persona) if she didn’t follow after introduction of Mercy, Tracer, Widowmaker etc, who all have fatal flaws dictated by “sex sells” in their designs.
*We understand that Brigitte has a name (thanks for all the readers for informing us of it); however that actually confirms our criticism regarding the supposed need for “doing the research” – the animated short can’t even bother to put her name into dialogue. The audience has to read some auxiliary non-game material beforehand to know who she’s supposed to be.
Hand-shaped bras a rare, but astounding “treat” among many, many gross boob-related costume tropes. And somehow, they’re almost always designed as skeleton/corpse hands, or at least monstrous looking claws… Because boob-grabbing wasn’t creepy enough on its own merits, I suppose.
What’s additionally weird about this particular one, is that if you look at her left breast, the hand-bra is not even holding it. It’s like hover hand, but extremely creepy instead of extremely awkward.
BTW, because nobody can prove me wrong on this one, I’ll assume that this lady lost her eye to one of those stabby spikes in her “armor”.
edit: We’ve been noted that this artwork is actually stolen from League of Legends fanart. BABD’s policy is not to put down fan/amateur/hobby/otherwise non-commercial artists, and I’m sorry for accidentally doing that.