Friday, April 1, 2011

Sexism and harrassment - MMO Style

Guys want chicks to play WoW with them. Guys love this, it means a cute ass is in front of them and a virtual babe which is real because hey...girl is behind the keyboard. This is SO HOT! and hey...maybe if I play my virtual nerd cards right, I can get me some bowchicawowow!!!! At least maybe in game. sort of. And that's where the sexism begins. This tends to be the most blatant form. But even the mmo industry game design supports this. Females always look better in robes than males, ergo female toons tend to be casters of one sort or another. Funnel mechanism right there folks. Armor of any sort that looks like lingerie rather than something that keeps a toon alive or would seem extremely uncomfortable ( a plate thong.... is that possible?). Very well endowed female toons. Even when slide bars are aint that much difference. Just hose creation points makes it the nerd guy's dream. But folks that's only the beginning and it concerns me. I mean, I do allow my kids to play the game. What message does that send them? For certain when my daughter was under 18 I would have made her throw out anything that would be overtly revealing such as mini skirts/midriff tops etc. I'm old fashioned that way. Should I think any different in a game that might allow such conduct to go on?

You are asking yourself...where did this all come from? Well, today I was surfing through allot of Blogs. The Greedy Goblin got me started. At first I was agreeing with the fact that honestly if you are carrying your significant other in game especially for raids, you are pretty much wrong. But then the tone became rater sexist to the point of...why would I date a girl if she isn't skilled like me? My personal feelings on this particular subject will have to wait for another time. I'll leave you the reader to make your own decision on what you feel about Devlon's ideas. Suffice to say, it got me thinking about how male and female interaction occurs in game.

Then I came across this post from In Character an RP focused Blog. What struck me the worst was the commentary about rape, flirtations, sexual advances or gurls suxz attitudes. My reply in that blog had more to do with the customer service from the GM's but my personal thoughts went back to the shitty make attitudes that were thrown about. Look, I'm an older guy. I don't tolerate disrespect of women. My wife plays and I'll get down right ornery with people who are rude to her based upon her being a woman, which does still happen. Oh, I know she can give as much as she takes, but the caveman in me still does the whole protective attitude even if it's in a virtual universe.

But really, has the Internet created monsters out of little boys? A real man doesn't need to portray such shitty attitudes, or at least I wouldn't think it's necessary. I'm no knight in shining armor, nor am I a prude in the least. But outrageous conduct is a sorry ass sham of being so anonymous that no one has to worry. If it's typed in, I wonder what the real person is like? Is this what they harbor deep inside? To hurt and abuse the opposite gender? Or make a hostile environment towards those of other racial background? Hey shit talkin is ok. Between consenting folks the whole ERP thing is ok if that 's what gets them hot as long as its done in a non public manner. What concerns me is a new social dynamic of mistreatment to the point of dehumanization. This bothers me.

So, in the community abroad I pose a set of questions to each of you.

1. Is sexual harassment an issue that needs to be addressed?

2. Should developers seriously cater to a much more conservative view of the female needs such as less revealing clothing or less objectified female toon looks?

3. Should the GM's of a given mmo have a priority list for sexual harassment allegations with a means of proof and a means of dealing with such crass behavior?

4. Overall, what are your opinions of allowing females to feel welcome in the nerd's world of video game mmo mayhem and murder?

I am honestly interested in reader opinion and would like to see a healthy discussion ensue.


  1. Hello Mhorgrim

    I'll throw in my remarks to some of your issues.

    1: yes always, in any circumstance, not just video games, or should I say, also in video games.

    2: This is the interesting one to me.
    Telling females that the way they are dressed directly causes sexual harassment, is like saying they are to blame as well.
    I believe the issue is not solved with guidelines in how females are dressed (flesh and blood or characters), but a change in attitude in the minds of the perpetrators, sort of like saying "don't tell women how to dress, tell men to not harass them".

    I think the fact that some gear becomes revealing on the female character, while being covered on a male character, is a strange message. I should add, that I've seen it the other way around as well.

    I think revealing gear is okay, as long as you have a choice, fx I like that you can always cover up your chest region with a shirt or a tabard, negating how much your chest piece shows. Covering the leg and bum region can be harder (unless you wear robes).

    4. I am a female players myself, and havn't had much harassment from anyone, I've also met little resistance. Most players I'm in contact with don't treat the gender thing as an issue at all, and I think that's very positive.

    I actually don't know how the state of this is generally, I've heard some feeling very cornered, while others (like me) don't have an issue at all.

    Interesting theme to put up for discussion :)

  2. Thank you for your response. You are the first one to do so lol.

    All points given were most interesting. Perhaps the MMO world has progressed some as well. To much of your post I think my wife would agree (she plays as well and quite a bit). The reasoning behind the topic was to gauge some of the successes and failures for an originally male dominated gaming industry.

    Let's face it, sexuality even though in a sublte way is in fact presented and promoted throughout MMO's. I do agree with your asessment that as long as a female has the choice to be revealing or not through layered clothing.

    MY larger concern is does the promotion of sexualized pixels promote disrespect especially amongst younger male players? I don't think it's as prevalent amongst the older generation of mmo players but what about the younger ones? Are we becoming a mirror of our own society with the troubles we face in the real world as well?