Sweden Considering Sexism Labels For Video Games

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Sweden Considering Sexism Labels For Video Games

sweden

Swedish games industry study group may recommend labeling products for levels of sexism, depiction of gender-equality

Sweden has become known as a country committed to gender-equality causes, as seen in the 2012 stir caused when the Swedish affiliate of Toys R Us began advertising using gender-neutral toy catalogs that deliberately mixed and matched outside the traditional boy/girl toy schism, or when some of the nation's movie theaters and TV channels began issuing ratings indicating whether or not films being shown passed the so-called "Bechdel Test."

Now, that same attention is being turned to the games industry. Dataspelsbranchen, a Swedish games industry organization, has been given a 272,000 kronor (roughly $36,672) grant by the state-funded "Innovation Agency" Vinnova to study and create a system that would provide ratings for games released in Sweden indicating the level of sexism and/or whether or not the game promotes gender equality. At this time, Dataspelsbranchen had not yet determined whether they would recommend these labels be applied to retail games in the manner of the ESRB ratings or as a "stamp of approval" that game publishers could use in their marketing.

Reached for comment as to the potential for a focus on diversity to detract from the creative process of developers by English-language Swedish news outlet The Local, project manager Anton Albiin was quoted as stating:

"Of course games can be about fantasy but they can be so much more than this. They can also be a form of cultural expression - reflecting society or the society we are hoping for. Games can help us to create more diverse workplaces and can even change the way we think about things."

Dataspelsbranchen (which is an association of the Swedish games industry, not a government agency) will partner with research firm Praxikon on their study, which will also include analysis of developers already working to promote diversity and gender-equality in order to help others learn from their experience.

Source: The Local

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oh man...I heard a million voices cry out in indignation

I think it was the internet

Vault101:
oh man...I heard a million voices cry out in indignation

I think it was the internet

I think you overestimate the number of voices. Or at least, I hope you do.

But I do expect a fresh wave of "See! The feminazis are banning our games!" from people who don't understand what a ban is.

I wonder if that organization will also label sexist depictions of men in games...

Nocturnus:
I wonder if that organization will also label sexist depictions of men in games...

There is no such thing. There are only power fantasies and deliberate parodies.

Didn't take very long for people to jump on the "what about men" train did it.

As a man, I wish the issues my gender faces would be more than something brought up with the sole purpose of shutting people up.

I think the quoted text is nice because it indicates a desire for an additive rather than transformative change. More games with social equality, not all games.

erttheking:
Didn't take very long for people to jump on the "what about men" train did it.

As a man, I wish the issues my gender faces would be more than something brought up with the sole purpose of shutting people up.

No idea what you're talking about. Nocturnus asked if the same organization would be doing the same for male characters (You know, equality).

Every other comment amounts to 'Just wait until the men start complaining about how oppressed they are!'.

Kopikatsu:

erttheking:
Didn't take very long for people to jump on the "what about men" train did it.

As a man, I wish the issues my gender faces would be more than something brought up with the sole purpose of shutting people up.

No idea what you're talking about. Nocturnus asked if the same organization would be doing the same for male characters (You know, equality).

Every other comment amounts to 'Just wait until the men start complaining about how oppressed they are!'.

I find that your quote about "There is no such thing" about male sexism to be one that is loaded with sarcasm and tells a lot about the way you view the situation, Basically saying no one cares about male sexism, which is pretty much "what about the men?" And if that was really his question, you didn't provide a clear answer.

A practice that I have seen frequently used by people talking about how SJWs are going to complain about X. The Human race kind of sucks like that.

And to be frank, you're doing little to prove them wrong.'

EDIT: And already the comments are shifting balance.

erttheking:
Didn't take very long for people to jump on the "what about men" train did it.

As a man, I wish the issues my gender faces would be more than something brought up with the sole purpose of shutting people up.

Didnt took long for you to show up and make passive agressive remarks about people who dont share your opinion now did it? ;)

See i can do this stuff too!

Fact is they are overdoing it. The Bechdel test? Really? You could make the most sexist garbage movie and it could still pass the bechdel test... thats how bad that thing is.

OT:

Video games can be so much more? Sure they "can" but they dont "have to".

Take the movie industry for example:

Look praise all your artsy movies all day long but if you look at the sales numbers you will see that Lord of the rings and Michael bays usual summber bloclbuster simply sell millions upon millions too.

Meanwhile the art movie branch is nothing but an echo chamber where so called artists can pat each other on the shoulder while having no real idea what makes a good movie good.

Kinda like most so called wine experts that cant really differentiate between a super market bought 5 dollar wine and a bottle thats aparantly worth severl thousand dollars aslong as you hide the labels from them. Same thing goes for these artsy movies and in turn to artsy "games".

Really the only good game i have seen in that category was journey.. because it understood that at the base of everything a game is still a GAME. It needs to be played or else it stops being a game and becomes pretentious BS.

Anyways this "sexism" label... people said that SJWs have no real power... well good for them that they dont live in sweden then eh? They try to be so progressive they are going backwards. Wonder when the first white CIS male witchhunts will begin. If youre not atleast bi- or metrosexual its your balls on a silverplatter nowadays it seems.

erttheking:

Kopikatsu:

erttheking:
Didn't take very long for people to jump on the "what about men" train did it.

As a man, I wish the issues my gender faces would be more than something brought up with the sole purpose of shutting people up.

No idea what you're talking about. Nocturnus asked if the same organization would be doing the same for male characters (You know, equality).

Every other comment amounts to 'Just wait until the men start complaining about how oppressed they are!'.

I find that your quote about "There is no such thing" about male sexism to be one that is loaded with sarcasm and tells a lot about the way you view the situation, Basically saying no one cares about male sexism, which is pretty much "what about the men?" And if that was really his question, you didn't provide a clear answer.

A practice that I have seen frequently used by people talking about how SJWs are going to complain about X. The Human race kind of sucks like that.

And to be frank, you're doing little to prove them wrong.

Every response I've ever seen to the question 'Is this character sexist in regards to men?' is 'No, that's a power fantasy, totally different.' Especially in regard to characters like Kratos or Marcus Fenix. The topic comes up time and time again on these forums alone, and that's always the majority of the comments.

Kopikatsu:

erttheking:

Kopikatsu:

No idea what you're talking about. Nocturnus asked if the same organization would be doing the same for male characters (You know, equality).

Every other comment amounts to 'Just wait until the men start complaining about how oppressed they are!'.

I find that your quote about "There is no such thing" about male sexism to be one that is loaded with sarcasm and tells a lot about the way you view the situation, Basically saying no one cares about male sexism, which is pretty much "what about the men?" And if that was really his question, you didn't provide a clear answer.

A practice that I have seen frequently used by people talking about how SJWs are going to complain about X. The Human race kind of sucks like that.

And to be frank, you're doing little to prove them wrong.

Every response I've ever seen to the question 'Is this character sexist in regards to men?' is 'No, that's a power fantasy, totally different.' Especially in regards to characters like Kratos or Marcus Fenix. The topic comes up time and time again on these forums alone, and that's always the majority of the comments.

Ok first of all, that wasn't a proper response to my post in anyway. Second of all, please tell me how Kratos and Marcus Fenix are sexist against men. And don't say it's because their sexualized because let me tell you,

no one made this character, stepped back and said "Yeah, he's damn sexy." He's ugly as fuck, he's a deformed slap of meat, and he's as charismatic as a corpse. He was not made with the concept of making people wanting to screw him in mind. It takes more than exposed skin to be a sex fantasy. This female character isn't wearing a shirt.

http://i.imgur.com/bT86m3z.jpg

She isn't sexualized. It's a power fantasy. It's all about the way that they hold themselves and act.

erttheking:

Ok first of all, that wasn't a proper response to my post in anyway. Second of all, please tell me how Kratos and Marcus Fenix are sexist against men. And don't say it's because their sexualized because let me tell you,

image

no one made this character, stepped back and said "Yeah, he's damn sexy." He's ugly as fuck. It takes more than exposed skin to be a sex fantasy. This female character isn't wearing a shirt.

http://i.imgur.com/bT86m3z.jpg

She isn't sexualized. It's a power fantasy. It's all about the way that they hold themselves and act.

That you think something has to be sexualized for it to be sexist is a personal problem. I don't know what else to tell you.

Kopikatsu:

erttheking:

Ok first of all, that wasn't a proper response to my post in anyway. Second of all, please tell me how Kratos and Marcus Fenix are sexist against men. And don't say it's because their sexualized because let me tell you,

no one made this character, stepped back and said "Yeah, he's damn sexy." He's ugly as fuck. It takes more than exposed skin to be a sex fantasy. This female character isn't wearing a shirt.

http://i.imgur.com/bT86m3z.jpg

She isn't sexualized. It's a power fantasy. It's all about the way that they hold themselves and act.

That you think something has to be sexualized for it to be sexist is a personal problem. That's really all there is to say on the subject. I don't know what else to tell you.

I brought out the sexualization argument because I see it every god damn time this argument comes up, because so many people are convinced Kratos was designed to be arm candy. I know a character doesn't need to be sexualized to be sexist, I didn't say that and don't insult my intelligence like that.

Well what makes them sexist then?

Not particularly surprised, a lot of old world countries have a reputation for being somewhat eunuch. Case in point; Fance and Sweden both place more authority for paternity tests on the mothers. How much and in what ways? I'm not your search engine.

Welp, this can only go well.

No sir-ree, I can't think of any reasons why this would go poorly.

I mean, it's not like whether or not a particular trope/character/etc. is or isn't sexist isn't in the eye of the beholder, and very much so up for debate. Nope, not at all.

I get wanting to make progress with the whole, "social equality" thing, but slapping certain games with a THIS IS SEXIST/THIS IS NOT SEXIST label is just silly and pointless. Hell, if anything it'll just slow down conversations about gender equality in gaming as it's going to have to define games as being problematic or not being problematic, which is just going to quiet discussion on the issue.

And $36k seems like a pretty small amount of money. I realize this group isn't exactly curing world hunger, but it doesn't even seem enough to pay the salaries of those working on these regulations.

Bah, nothing'll come of this anyway. I know Sweden is crazy with gender equality, but they wouldn't go this far and do something this stupid in that pursuit, right?

*Sighs*So what would qualify as being sexist under this new label system?A woman showing the tiniest bit of skin?A men being half naked?

I can already tell this is gonna be one sided just like with everything else regarding what's considered sexist or not.

*Sighs*So what would qualify as being sexist under this new label system?A woman showing the tiniest bit of skin?A men being half naked?

I can already tell this is gonna be one sided just like with everything else regarding what's considered sexist or not.

I actually think this is a pretty good idea that in practice could leave both sides of the argument with little to complain about. Having it labelled on the game doesn't prevent you from buying the game, so the people who don't mind or who actively enjoy the sort of content this affects can have their game same as ever - rather than pushing to change the content of the game, this would just declare that it's the sort of game that has stuff like that - if anything, it somewhat legitimizes it as an artistic choice to have it there next to violence and drug use, other bad things which some people nevertheless enjoy in their games.

Meanwhile, on the side of the people who have a problem with these sorts of games, it makes it easy to avoid games which have objectionable content, and it draws attention to the issue on a large scale - if there's a lot of games getting this rating, that's a valuable statistic and an easy to find red flag, developers may become more aware of it as an issue in their games if they have to consider whether they want their game to have this rating. More awareness of an issue like this is a good thing.

The main problem with this is if the ratings agency becomes overzealous in assigning a new rating like this. Stuff that's borderline, hard to make out, should probably be given the benefit of the doubt because it's not going to read the same to everyone. I think if they can get specific, hard guidelines into place, it could probably work well.

erttheking:

Kopikatsu:

erttheking:

Ok first of all, that wasn't a proper response to my post in anyway. Second of all, please tell me how Kratos and Marcus Fenix are sexist against men. And don't say it's because their sexualized because let me tell you,

no one made this character, stepped back and said "Yeah, he's damn sexy." He's ugly as fuck. It takes more than exposed skin to be a sex fantasy. This female character isn't wearing a shirt.

http://i.imgur.com/bT86m3z.jpg

She isn't sexualized. It's a power fantasy. It's all about the way that they hold themselves and act.

That you think something has to be sexualized for it to be sexist is a personal problem. That's really all there is to say on the subject. I don't know what else to tell you.

So in other words you're not going to explain to me why you think Marcus Fenix is sexist then? I brought out the sexualization argument because I see it every god damn time this argument comes up, because so many people are convinced Kratos was designed to be arm candy. I know a character doesn't need to be sexualized to be sexist, I didn't say that and don't insult my intelligence like that.

Well what makes them sexist then?

He's making the argument that they're sexist (at least I think he is, I could be wrong) because they're creating characters that are basically walking negative stereotypes where their gender, in this case male, is an integral part of that stereotype. Something doesn't have to be sexualized to be sexist; the dumb blonde stereotype, or the "women should be in the kitchen" stereotype are sexist because they're negative gender stereotypes, with nothing inherently sexual about them. Conversely, some might see the "big dumb ultraviolent musclebrained supersoldier" thing as a negative male stereotype, again, no sexuality involved.

Gee, I'm sure people will only react to this news with polite civility... /sarcasm.

When I first heard of the idea I thought it was going to be a government rating, and given the problems we've had here in Australia it sounded like a terrible plan. BUT, an ESRB style rating sounds pretty good, let the developers come on board themselves. Maybe not such a bad idea after all, Sweden.

That said, I wonder what the criteria for 'promoting gender equality' would be. Do they actually want it to be 'promoted' or just reflected? Big difference.

erttheking:

I brought out the sexualization argument because I see it every god damn time this argument comes up, because so many people are convinced Kratos was designed to be arm candy. I know a character doesn't need to be sexualized to be sexist, I didn't say that and don't insult my intelligence like that.

Well what makes them sexist then?

I couldn't say off the top of my head because that's not a subject I give a rat's ass about (nor am I very good at pulling examples off the top of my head either). So I'll go throw out my best guess, although I should point out that I've never played Gears of War and only half of God of War 1. (I only just now realized that both of those series can be abbreviated as GoW).

Unless I'm mistaken, Kratos and Marcus are little more than walking male stereotypes. Six feet tall heavily 'roided out killing machines with no emotional states to speak of aside from unadulterated rage. Many traits that society imposes on men and discriminates against those who don't fit those molds (Strong, stoic, assertive/aggressive, etc)

But more than that, the treatment of men and women are different in games. Example from a series I actually know something about: What game would dare treat a woman pissing herself in fear as funny? 'cause Otacon's incontinence is played as a joke every time it comes up.

It's easy to claim that men are far more objectified than women- men are often used as stock antagonists that can be killed by the dozen with zero motivation or characterization given to any of them. They are literally an object- just an obstacle to overcome with zero purpose or agency for themselves.

This came up recently while playing Valkyria Chronicles. It was extremely distracting that your squad is made up of a wide variety of characters with both genders being represented evenly, but out of the hundreds of Imperials you fight, only one of them is a woman. There's probably no good way to say 'I wish I could shoot more women in this game', but... I wish I could shoot more women in that game.

Edit: Smiley Face explained the argument better than I have. Never claimed to be a good orator!

Smiley Face:
Snip

As I said in that very post you replied to I KNOW THAT! I know that they don't need to be sexualized to be sexist. And I hate Marcus Fenix as a character, yet I still don't think he's sexist. Mainly because he's designed to appeal to men rather than dehumanizing him. That and by Gears 3 everyone in the cast, male and female alike, had devolved into the same neanderthal like mindset that he had. That and the thing is, if you don't want to play as a "big dumb ultraviolent musclebrained supersoldier" you don't have to look too far in gaming for something malewise there. I've said it before and I'll say it again. I consider sexualized female characters sexist, but only because there's usually a massive lack of alternatives.

I call bullshit on any such thing actually going through. There's not an ounce of logic in trying to implement any such system.

So you'll have a bunch of people deciding for everyone else how racist/sexist something is...and it will achieve what exactly?

The Bechdel Test is to determining sexism in stuff as your BMI is to determining how healthy you are.

Sure it seems to make sense at first until you do a little research and find out its an extremely shallow method of testing.

erttheking:
Didn't take very long for people to jump on the "what about men" train did it.

As a man, I wish the issues my gender faces would be more than something brought up with the sole purpose of shutting people up.

Why do you keep making the perfect post before i show up to a thread, preventing me from posting? It's some sort of plan to mess with me, isn't it?

Im on to you.

Of course it's in Sweden, whenever there's one of these odd ideas no one asked for and that will inevitably be a mess to deal with for government, business and customer alike, it's always Sweden.

This is going to be a mess, mainly due to the fact that there is no objective way to label something with this. We already see arguments daily on weather or not something in video games is sexist (usually it depends purely on weather you are sex-positive or sex-negative and not actually weather it is sexist or not) so what metric is going to be used? Can't be the Bechdel test, that doesn't work and we know it (hell, it's own creator hates that it's even used by people).

Captcha: rain go away

Kopikatsu:

erttheking:

I brought out the sexualization argument because I see it every god damn time this argument comes up, because so many people are convinced Kratos was designed to be arm candy. I know a character doesn't need to be sexualized to be sexist, I didn't say that and don't insult my intelligence like that.

Well what makes them sexist then?

I couldn't say off the top of my head because that's not a subject I give a rat's ass about (nor am I very good at pulling examples off the top of my head either). So I'll go throw out my best guess, although I should point out that I've never played Gears of War and only half of God of War 1. (I only just now realized that both of those series can be abbreviated as GoW).

Unless I'm mistaken, Kratos and Marcus are little more than walking male stereotypes. Six feet tall heavily 'roided out killing machines with no emotional states to speak of aside from unadulterated rage.

But more than that, the treatment of men and women are different in games. Example from a series I actually know something about: What game would dare treat a woman pissing herself in fear as funny? 'cause Otacon's incontinence is played as a joke.

Wait wait wait wait, you bring it up a lot yet it's a topic you don't care about? And you're guessing? You know, you're not exactly putting a lot of confidence behind your words.

Less male stereotypes and more grim gritty "realistic" hero stereotypes. And for Kratos it actually fit his character in the first god of war with the whole Greek Tragedy thing it was going on, ending with him realizing how horrible of a person he had been. Then God of War 3 happened and completely fucked that up. There are plenty of male heroes out there that aren't like them. Really my main problem with a lot of female characters is that there's a massive lack of alternative, they all have to be pretty, they all need to have an hourglass figure, and so on and so forth. There's no variety, no choice for people that don't want to play that archtype. You don't want to be a roided out meat head in Gears of War? Boot up Metal Gear Rising Revengance where you're a skinny blonde pretty boy cyborg. Or Persona 4 where you play the local boy that gets along with everyone. Or Far Cry 3 where you're a scared college boy. Or Kain and Lynch where you drop all pretence and play a pair of psychos. There's just more accepted variety for male characters in gaming than there are female.

*Looks at Metal Gear Solid 2 where Otacon's sister pisses herself* Yup. And let's be honest here, Metal Gear's toilet humor is the thing everyone points to when they say why it's a horrible series. It's just stupid, pure and simple.

I could be wrong but my understanding of Sweden politics learned online secondhand is that they've basically had a feminist takeover of some degree in the government & bureaucracy. And this news really helps back that idea up.

Now I think it's kind of silly, but I've always felt it's none of my damn business what laws & regulation another country & it's citizens wish to pass, as long as said laws aren't actively endangering a target group.

Guess Sweden's in for social engineering. "This game is socially unacceptable" speaks their bloated Orwellian government and the masses will nod their heads in agreement. Governments moralizing always turns out so well for people who don't fit the mold.

Sounds interesting, that never would have occurred to me. I'm curious to see how it will turn out.

That will show those two people who factor warning labels into purchasing games!

While it is yet another goddamn oil tanker on the fire of this sexism in vidya games debate, which is burning for ages now and managed to make everyone look stupid in it, but honestly, most of those labels are there for giggles. The only useful I've seen was some big insectoid warning for people with arachnophobia, but that's all. The rest are just funny, like how Borderlands 2 promotes gambling, because you know, one-armed bandits lob grenades at you kids. Don't gamble.

This is thoroughly bizarre and probably going to lead to a great deal of people being way too judgemental.

Not a bad idea. With games labeled as "sexist" some companies will do their best to avoid the stigma. Over time, it might lead to the final end of sexism in video games. And then some games, like Dead or Alive, can take the sexism label and wear it with pride, much like how a lot of games wear the "violence" label with pride.

Yeah, I can't see this ending well should this come to pass. The Bayonetta franchise alone would result in a clusterfuck for the ages, since opinions are so very split on whether it's one of the most sexist series in all of gaming or the very definition of female empowerment and equality. Bring in every other game, franchise, and trope that's debatable on whether or not it's sexist, then throw in the very subjective and generally unclear nature on what actually does and doesn't constitute sexism as well as the effects of context, and you have a rating system that simply could not work with the subject at hand. If this affects a game's age rating too.... oh boy, I don't want to even imagine the backlash that would cause.

All around, it's an absolutely dreadful idea. Don't do it Sweden. Just don't.

Frankly, it sounds like a waste of time given how open to interpretation female video game characters can be:

As an aside, it amazes me how the Bechdel test is still touted as unassailable scientific criteria when it was merely the set-up joke for a comic strip.

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