Thursday, September 18

The whole threatening discussion

I have to admit, first and foremost, that I don’t know much about the whole Anita Sarkeesian issue. I’m not following up on AAA titles and all the discussions these days. What annoys me, however, is the way people wage war about how it’s not different whether or not a man or a woman is threatened with rape online. Let me tell you why there is an actual difference.

I don’t doubt, after several blog posts and other articles I read online while the debate was still raging hottest, that men who are outspoken online face death threats and rape threats as well. It’s a definite prove the internet still has some growing up to do - the users have, at any rate. So why should it be more terrible when it happens to a woman?
If you are a man, looking at this comic might help to give you a bit of insight into a woman’s world. Or, rather, into the dark side of a woman’s world. But here’s the true reason why it is different: men don’t really have to fear the rape threats, women do.

Don’t believe me? Well, outside jail, a man past his teens doesn’t have to fear being raped. The number of rapes happening to adult males (as I said, outside jail) is extremely small. It’s more likely for a man to be hit by lightning than to be raped, once he’s adult and not in jail. So Mr. Dawkins and other people who get threatened online regularly can sleep safely and leave their homes whenever they wish.
So, what is different for a woman? A woman is always in danger of being raped, from the cradle to the grave (and I do not kid you about one of those, really). Statistically, one out of five women (that’s 20%) in a developed first-world country will be sexually violated at least once in her life. In some so-called third-world countries, the rate is far higher - remember all those mass-rape cases in India recently? Rape is not a joke to us. Rape is not something we can just brush off. Rape is real and always raising its ugly head.

Of course, we know most people who make any kind of threat online would never follow through with it in real life. It’s much easier to write ‘I’m going to kill you’ than to actually do it. So, no, not every guy who ever threatened a woman on Twitter or Facebook with rape will really pull through with that, should he ever personally meet that woman in question.
Our problem, then? Well, not every guy will, but some might. And we can’t see which of the guys who threatened us will actually pull through, given the chance. It’s not as if a potential rapist has ‘rapist’ tattooed on his forehead or something. They might look nice, they might look friendly, they might look harmless.

And afterwards? The woman, having been raped, will have to face the flack. It’s true, rape is the only crime for which the victim usually gets blamed. People either say ‘she’s lying’ or ‘it’s her fault, because she dressed slutty.’
Yes, there are women who report a false rape, for whatever reason. But then, there’s thousands of people filing in false damage or burglary reports with their insurance companies each year. Does that mean you immediately scream ‘insurance cheater’ when someone tells you their home has been broken into? Or they’ve been in a car accident?
Victim blaming is possible in the case of rape, because most victims are women. That might sound like a typical unfair feminist claim. It’s not. Women still aren’t equal to men in every aspect. They usually still are lower on the hierarchy and have less power and influence. Sexual harassment and rape are not about sex, you see, they’re about power. Exercising power over someone. Hence the jail thing above, in jail, rape isn’t about sex, either, but about exercising power over someone else.
Let’s be honest, a man who just needs sexual relief doesn’t go out and rape a woman. He’ll visit a prostitute, pick up a woman for a one-night stand (and in this case, the woman wants it, too, so there’s nothing wrong about it), or just, you know, take care of it by hand.
And in most cases, the offender in a rape case is no stranger with a raincoat and a wide-brimmed hat. It’s a family member, a friend, a colleague, or a superior. It’s not about what the woman does or doesn’t wear, either. There’ve been rapes during the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, while women were forced to wear those one-man tents. Tell me how a woman in a shapeless, black (or blue) bag with a little meshing for seeing through can dress ‘too sexy,’ will you?

For a man, that might all sound crazy, untrue, or just scaring. For a woman, all of the above is a truth she has to live with, every day of her life, from being born to dying. So, the next time you see a rape threat online, tell the guy who has made it off for it. The next time you hear someone crack a rape joke, tell them it’s not funny. If a woman does, she’s just being sensitive or a feminist. Perhaps it has more impact, if it comes from a fellow guy.

Sunday, September 14

Gaming as a such

If you have read my personal blog or this one, you will have realized already I like playing computer games (and reading, and reading comics, and watching movies, and many other things). I’m not much into online games for various reasons. FPS is very much in my past, I like story-driven RPGs for one person much more than the MMO variety, I don’t like casino games (and I’ve already written about the pest of FTP games in my personal blog). I do like both AAA titles and casual games, even though they are different to me.

AAA titles usually mean a lot of commitment. They’re long (and for the price they ought to be, honestly) and you need to train with them, so you can manage to stay on top of the learning curve. I do enjoy the great RPG titles (and there’s many wonderful indie RPGs out there, too), I enjoy the occasional action game or action adventure, too. Sometimes, I even go for strategy (real-time or turn-based), even though I’m not a tactical genius.
Casual games are more of a ‘one level at a time’ thing. They do have a learning curve, too (and some, like “Diner Dash - Flo Through Time,” have a damn steep one), but on the whole they’re more forgiving when it comes to mistakes. They don’t demand the same level of commitment - although I’m sure I could make all gold on some TMs, if I committed more time to them.
Apart from the price and time they take to finish, though, there’s another huge difference between casual and AAA games: character design. I don’t mean the graphics, which usually are different (but graphic styles are very different between games and developers, anyway), but the way the characters, main and otherwise, are shown. Only very few AAA titles have a female main character (more about it in my last post here) or the option to play one. A lot of casual games do.

Why? Because women are the main target audience for casual games, but not for AAA titles. Casual games usually demand brains. I don’t claim AAA titles don’t as a rule, but many of those rely more on quick reflexes, unlike the casual ones. They demand tactics (TM games, builders), a sharp eye (HOGs, M3 games), the will to solve puzzles (HOGs, casual adventures). They don’t demand characters capable of using brute force. What would be the point in searching ten hidden object scenes for a key, if you could just rip the offending door off the hinges? Why can’t you just use the crowbar instead? (Wait, that’s not a good example, but one of my pet peeves about gaming logic…) Of course, you also need lighting reflexes to get gold on levels of the “Diner Dash” series. A good online friend of mine claims that’s not true and the secret of gold levels is chaining. She can easily get gold on all of them, so she’s probably right, but for me, it’s usually click-click-clicking really fast.
Adventures, one of the oldest genres of PC gaming, have always had a strong female following. They rely on the player solving puzzles and communicating with other characters, most of the time. Some puzzles are ‘use the right item in the right place’ while others are more about asking the right question at the right time or really solving mini-games these days (I don’t mind that, especially if the games have a skip button for the hopeless cases - like me with the classic Eight-Queens chess puzzle … yes, I know there’s probably hundreds of places with solutions for that one). Ever since I first tried to take the bus to the airport with Zak McKracken, I’ve been a huge fan of adventures.
RPG games combine the story-driven mechanics of an adventure with tactics and sometimes wild clicking (depending on whether you play turn-based or real-time combat). There’s also a lot of gathering loot involved and I love gathering loot.
Then there’s Maxis with its simulations. I’ve been hooked on them since the first SimCity. I’m also a huge fan of The Sims, despite the fact that you only play a simulated normal life. I like playing them and I’ve probably waste too much time with them over the many years the series has been running.
Then there’s the Anno series, especially “Anno 1404” which I’m still playing (I like it more than the currently last one in the series, which is “Anno 2070”). They’re builders and look very beautiful. I know a couple of women who like them and I’m not surprised. Battle may happen, but it has always been a little ‘bonus’ to the actual building. Most of the time, at least outside the campaigns, you can avoid battle by simply not going out and annoying other parties. Working together and having a trade agreement or a peace treaty usually pays of more in those games, for both sides.

I’ve played my share of FPS games in the past (starting with “Star Wars: Dark Forces”), I like action adventures, even though I have troubles with some parts, usually, since my reflexes do not hold up to games designed for 20-something guys. I’ve tried my hands at flight simulators in the past (and learned I’m a terrible pilot that way). But that’s me, not the ‘woman’ but the ‘not so average woman.’ That’s just an almost 40-year-old with the reflexes of an almost 40-year-old who had to learn the hard way she can’t do “Crystal Caves” or “Secret Agent” as well any longer as she did many, many years ago, when she played them for the first time and was not even 20… The good thing about being almost 40 is that you have learned patience and are more ready to do a level over and over again, in order to get through it (and finally pull down that Star Destroyer in level 8 of the first “Star Wars: The Force Unleashed” game).

What do I prefer? AAA titles that are targeted and marketed to young men? Casual games that are targeted and marketed to women? For me, the answer still is ‘both.’ I can’t imagine not playing any more AAA titles, although I own many more casual games - but then, they’re a lot cheaper. I don’t want to get back to the times of only AAA titles, either.