Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Drawing The Line Between Fantasy and Reality

It's six am and I have stayed up all night for no reason, so time to feel semi-productive and write something.

In my Victorian Supernatural lit class (best class evaaaar) we got into a discussion about feminism and the different types of views feminists have. More specifically, the difference between the beliefs of second and third wave feminists. Second wave feminists believe that there is kind of an unspoken sisterhood between all women, that we're all fighting the same battle, etc. Third wave feminism sees all women as individuals with different goals, fighting the battle in their own way.

What does this have to do with video games? Well, I know it's been beaten like a dead horse, but it brought up thoughts of Fat Princess, especially since it was playable at this year's GDC. I had a pretty infamous incident where I tried to have an intelligent discussion with the feminists who opposed the game, which eventually led to them being like, "This isn't the place for discussing this, this post was for making fun of trolls. You are a troll hahahahaha you suck."

I don't like the idea that people oppose the game because they claim it is offensive to women everywhere. Blindly grouping all people as either on your side or against you is ignorant. Clearly since I am a woman who has nothing against the game, I am "betraying my sisters" or some nonsense. What disturbs me is the idea that these women feel as if this game reflects society's view on women.

The game is a fantasy, both visually and within the gameplay. I'm pretty sure the developers weren't trying to say, "Women are so stupid that, if offered cake by their captors, they would gorge themselves until they got too fat to move." Just writing that made me feel ridiculous. Such a literal interpretation of a game is laughable. That's like saying Banjo-Kazooie is an unfair portrayal of the relationship between bears and birds.

It seems strange to me that the people who have the most trouble separating the fantasy of videogames from the reality are people who don't actually play them. I have played Call of Duty and yet never shot a gun, mastered Cooking Mama and still manage to burn toast, and played Street Fighter without ever engaging in a real fight. Someone not accustomed to the world of gaming looks at Halo multiplayer and sees a killing spree. I look at it and I see a scoreboard. Blowing up a car in GTA IV would look like terrorism, but I don't see anything that's too different from when I was 4 and made my Hot Wheels cars crash into each other (providing my own sounds effects of course).

Books were considered dangerous at one point in time because of what was held within. TV, which in the course of human history is quite new, is still thought of as a threat. But today, videogames get all of the blame because they are the newest form of entertainment, and the least understood by the general public. I think games are starting to carve themselves a place in our culture and people are eventually going to have to accept that. They have the same function as books and TV: they provide us an escape, a fantasy world where we can be anyone or anything we want. People who are incapable of separating those two worlds have problems much deeper than a simple videogame could be the cause of.

Jesus, I hope some of that made sense. I feel bad because I always write about women and their role in the gaming world and stuff, which I'm sure people are going to get tired of hearing. But I can't help it; there are just so many warped conceptions of women inside and out of videogames.

Summary: People are dumb, I need sleep. ZOMG LIEK GURLZ TOTALY ROOL!

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