Wednesday, 6 June 2012

E3: No Girls Allowed

So this bank holiday the Queen managed to struggle though a whole lot of puffed up pomp and circumstance for her diamond jubilee, the festivities of which turned out to be a kind of adoration based Highlander that put the Duke of Edinburgh in hospital.
"Bollocks to this Liz, I'm going to pull a sickie and play Civ 5 back at home"
"Very well darling but remember there can be only one"
 These gilded celebrations were not however the focus of my weekend, I had my eye on a much more vapid and dissapointing series of events. I am of course talking about E3. So much was wrong with the Electronic Entertainment Expo this year that I risk loosing focus on this week's subject due to the massive amount of chagrin I feel. Many people have already pointed these out but here is a brief summary of this year's biggest failures from what I saw:

  • Flo-Rida and Usher.
  • The lack of actual games at the Microsoft conference.
  • The fact that the majority of airtime was given to games that are all basically titled Modern Gun Shooter 69: Shoot the Arabs/ Russians in Their Dirty Faces.
  • Don Mattrick's closing statements that make him sound like a megacorp CEO from the dystopian  cyberpunk future.
  • Capcom's loaf headed and awkward rep presenting Resi 6 (which appears to be a poorly upscaled ps2 game).
  • Tobuscus being present as part of the Ubisoft conference but being relentlessly and awkwardly ridiculed by evil android corp woman.
  • Sony's apparent abandonment of the PS Vita.
  • Nintendoland not actually being a real theme park.
As I said however, none of these are the focus of today's writings. Today I wan't to talk about sexism.

I may have mentioned this before but I have spent most of the last 5 to 10 years mingling with the rest of nerd kind. In the anime society I was in at university we were also very into gaming. We had lan parties and celebrated Wintereenmas. Also our best chairperson (and a good chunk of our attendees) was a girl. The chairperson of the gaming society when it started up towards the end of my university life was a girl. About half the council of the LARP society were girls. Over half of the Sci-fi society were female. When I go to anime conventions around half the people going are ladies.
Here are some of those ladies. Sometimes they like to dress up as ponies. Because they are awesome.
It's 2012 now and women can do stuff, personally I'm very happy about that. Its nice that I can talk to people of the opposite sex about things that I am passionate about and get something back for a change. I say this not because I think every girl who talks to me properly is a win for me but they actually bring something new and interesting to the table other than a pair of tits in a tshirt. The problem is big gaming corperations don't seem to agree with me.
None of these girls are here because they want to learn about Watch_Dogs

E3 was most sobering for me because of the way women were presented by companies like Microsoft, EA and Ubisoft. I think there were probably more hotpants barely covering buttocks during the Microsoft show alone than there were actual game release announcements and this is not acceptable. As a man I find it patronising and insulting that these people think I will buy a game just because conventionally hot girls were near it at some point and it makes us gaming gents look bad that someone thinks that. Every single new dance game was an excuse to get some scantily clad chicks on the stage to gyrate lustfully for 3.5 minutes. I would have preferred to see some overweight bearded guys have a go; at least that would be funny and unexpected.

It also struck me that pretty much everyone who had something interesting to say was male, the only girl who did any actual gameplay demoing was this cretin:
Who played what was essentially a rubbish 3D angry birds clone in a manner that seemed more aggressively scripted than a League of Legends Summoner Spotlight.

Ubisoft suffered from similar issues, opening their conference with more hot pants and dance game shenanigans. Things just got worse from there with a painfully awkward female compère who couldn't decided whether she was the world's worst standup comedian or Tobuscus' harried school teacher and a Farcry 3 preview that opened with tits. Towards the middle of the briefing things appeared to get a bit better with an e sports demo featuring some girls with what appeared to be genuine pro-gamer cred. And hot pants. Who got beaten down by some guys. Oh well. Near miss I guess. I think this video a friend recommended to me sums up my reaction here better than I can:

Now I know that teenage boys are big business at the moment but its because of them that we now have a gaming market choked with games that involve shooting people in the face down corridors. A trend which we are starting to get fed up of. Now I'm not naive enough to think that a great deal of gaming is still done by ignorant teenagers (there are entire youtube channels devoted to trolling them) but it should be the responsibilty of companies like EA, Ubisoft and Microsoft to help change this, not feed into it. 

Girls play games now (many are very good at it), the core gamer community is evolving and its time that the companies who make games for us started evolving their attitudes to.

Stay Crunchy Interent

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