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Thread: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

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    Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    http://www.gamespot.com/features/the...ement-6350732/

    http://www.themarysue.com/bioware-je...-announcement/

    Basically, Hepler suggested six years ago that since games have a skip dialogue button, many games could expand their demographic to non-traditional players by also offering a "skip combat" button, allowing people to play them as interactive novels where the focus is on choice and relationships.

    In the last month, she joined Twitter and somebody dug these comments up, leading to a number of people accusing her of destroying gaming and bullying and intimidating her with phone calls telling her to commit suicide and profanity laden (oftsen sexist and homophobic) tweets comparing her to Hitler.

    Now, I don't think her idea works for all games but the idea that gamers must somehow "defend gaming" by brutally shutting down her idea smacks of fundamentalism. This reminds me of things that frustrate me in comics, cinema, and academia from people who appoint themselves fans and defenders of a genre or a media.

    I say, let her design games that allow skipping combat. Gamers don't have a right to define what gaming is. Comics readers don't have a right to define what constitutes a comic or an obligation to challenge something that threatens what you like with something new. If she makes games where the central mechanic is interactive fiction, let her do that and don't buy them if you don't like them. Games, movies, whatever don't have to adhere to rigid definitions and this underscores my point: don't be fans of a media/genre. Be fans of specific works that appeal to you for specific reasons.

    I like super-heroes IN GENERAL and I like optimistic heroes. The Boys doesn't threaten me in any way as long as somebody is doing a take on Superman that doesn't feel the need to respond to or incorporate The Boys. The world doesn't need me defending what super-heroes are or are not. I just wish I could convince everyone to stop defending the idea that there is one ideal for how things should be, whether consumer or content producer, and start focusing on producing and appreciating products with an internal sense of integrity. "The industry" doesn't exist. The "state of gaming" or "state of comics" is meaningless on a certain level. Companies and consumers, IMHO, need to abandon the idea of something successful defining "how everything should be" or protecting against works that don't fit into our prefered views.

    And if you call someone up and encourage them to commit suicide over an opinion on art or commercial products, you deserve to get smacked upside the head by your mother, publicly.

    *sigh*

  2. #2
    Right Guy AthenAltena's Avatar
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    Re: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    *sigh* Seems like every time it looks like we're making progress towards breaking the stereotypes of gamers shit like this happens. And then people try to tell us that there's no sexism in the gaming community. *eyeroll*

    Though I'm glad BioWare is standing by her and supporting her in this.

  3. #3

    Re: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    Funny. I actually, instead of playing it, watched a playthrough of Arkham Asylum on youtube. The story was perfectly fine and interesting, even without me actually doing anything. So I totally get where she's coming from.

    This would actually be brilliant for RPGs. Most people I know prefer the exploration part over the actual fighting.

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    Moderator Corrina's Avatar
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    Re: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    Seems a valid tweak to a game. It's not like she'd force people to give up the fighting part, right?

    I don't get the uproar. Okay, I do. She's got girl cooties and she expressed the opinion that the fighting might not be interesting. Oh noes!
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    Right Guy AthenAltena's Avatar
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    Re: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Corrina View Post
    I don't get the uproar. Okay, I do. She's got girl cooties and she expressed the opinion that the fighting might not be interesting. Oh noes!
    That's the "issue" as far as I can tell too.

    And good point, Zemo. When you get down to it's she's pretty much describing Let's Plays, and how many people watch those without complaining about how it's "ruining the genre"? (There probably are some, I just haven't seen it)

  6. #6

    Re: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    Quote Originally Posted by Corrina View Post
    Seems a valid tweak to a game. It's not like she'd force people to give up the fighting part, right?

    I don't get the uproar. Okay, I do. She's got girl cooties and she expressed the opinion that the fighting might not be interesting. Oh noes!
    I'm not even sure that it's a predominantly sexist thing. Sure, it may play a role, but the whole gaming community is just so mean-spirited and bullying, they will just lash out at any change at all.

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    Right Guy AthenAltena's Avatar
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    Re: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    Quote Originally Posted by zemo View Post
    I'm not even sure that it's a predominantly sexist thing. Sure, it may play a role, but the whole gaming community is just so mean-spirited and bullying, they will just lash out at any change at all.
    That too, though I think gender does have a big role in it. Most of the backlash against "casual gamers" that I've seen has mostly just been thinly coded insults directed at women. They'll swear to high heaven that's not the case, but it's pretty obvious if you spend even a little time reading what they say. See also the whole big mess BioWare ran into when they dared release a FemShep trailer, since all the sudden that was "pandering" and "selling out" to people who didn't matter, i.e. mostly women. Not to mention all the shit BioWare's gotten for actually being (relatively) friendly to women gamers.

    And yet so many of the (mostly) men I've seen engage in this juvenile bullshit then turn around and wonder why they can't find any girls interested in what they're interested in. Gee, I wonder why. I still bitterly remember how when I was in middle school I tried to join the anime club and quite literally had the door shut in my face while some jackass gave me this grin that told me I wasn't supposed to be there.

  8. #8

    Re: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    Quote Originally Posted by AthenAltena View Post
    That too, though I think gender does have a big role in it. Most of the backlash against "casual gamers" that I've seen has mostly just been thinly coded insults directed at women. They'll swear to high heaven that's not the case, but it's pretty obvious if you spend even a little time reading what they say. See also the whole big mess BioWare ran into when they dared release a FemShep trailer, since all the sudden that was "pandering" and "selling out" to people who didn't matter, i.e. mostly women. Not to mention all the shit BioWare's gotten for actually being (relatively) friendly to women gamers.

    And yet so many of the (mostly) men I've seen engage in this juvenile bullshit then turn around and wonder why they can't find any girls interested in what they're interested in. Gee, I wonder why. I still bitterly remember how when I was in middle school I tried to join the anime club and quite literally had the door shut in my face while some jackass gave me this grin that told me I wasn't supposed to be there.
    I had no idea that there was an uproar about the FemShep trailer. Haven't watched any ME3 trailers at all yet, don't want to spoil the story.

    Oh, and that anime club? I'm pretty sure they were watching hentai and didn't want a girl interfering with that. The irony in not wanting to trade the fictional females for a real one is not lost to me :3

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    Right Guy AthenAltena's Avatar
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    Re: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    Quote Originally Posted by zemo View Post
    I had no idea that there was an uproar about the FemShep trailer. Haven't watched any ME3 trailers at all yet, don't want to spoil the story.
    Long story short, fans asked BioWare to make a FemShep trailer, they did, NerdRage ensued. It was pretty stupid. Because having Miranda's ass almost always be the focus of the camera is perfectly okay, but when you make a trailer showing a version of your character that a lot of people, both men and women, like to play as, it's suddenly pandering!

    And don't get me started on the rage that ensued when they announced gay male romance options for ME3. Despite the fact that F/F romances have been there from day 1, they wanted to do more gay romances in the first one and left much of the code in the game, and you pretty much can't get them unless you're specifically trying. Apparently just their presence and knowing they're there is enough to threaten some guys' sexuality, which quite frankly tells me a lot about them.

    Quote Originally Posted by zemo View Post
    Oh, and that anime club? I'm pretty sure they were watching hentai and didn't want a girl interfering with that. The irony in not wanting to trade the fictional females for a real one is not lost to me :3
    I'm pretty sure it wasn't hentai, just Evangelion. Though considering we were in middle school that might not have been much better.

    Although I will say then I tend to be a heartbreaker for nerdy guys since I'm actually gay, not that they (or I) knew it at the time.

  10. #10

    Re: Bioware Developer Jennifer Hepler "Scandal" and genre fundamentalism

    Quote Originally Posted by zemo View Post
    I'm not even sure that it's a predominantly sexist thing. Sure, it may play a role, but the whole gaming community is just so mean-spirited and bullying, they will just lash out at any change at all.
    This is why I see it as fundamentalism more than anything... and I think fundamentalism takes on all flavors. It can be homophobic. It can be feminist. It can be in support of protecting children or it can be a defense of pedophelia. It's a rigidness in one's own definitions and ways of approaching "the ideal state of being" that's the underlying problem IMHO. At its core, its building a life philosophy around the phrase "You took something from me and I want it back."

    I don't find that kind of rigid thinking productive, nor is it really progressive, regardless of the cause it defends or the valid points buried in there. Rigid ideology is almost always fatally flawed, even in defense of the weak or in promotion of better lives for people.

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