Forums - Politics Discussion - OK, so what is a "feminist game"?

Megiddo said:
Jaicee said:

In some ways, yes. Also, I think it may be worth pointing out the Portal story doesn't conclude on a note of enmity between Chell and Gladdos.

I mean, in some ways, how? I can't think of a single time in the Portal games where the protagonist being a woman had any sort of effect on the story.  If all that's needed for feminism is a female protagonist then I guess I could see your point. I would think there'd have to be some sort of substance behind it though.  I'd say there's a heck of a lot of enmity at the end of Portal 2. The ending theme is literally "Want You Gone".

Part of what makes Portal a feminist game is that patriarchy tropes are not overly present...

In any work of fiction (video games, literature, music, etc), so many of the struggles women face are dominated by their fathers (overcoming daddy issues), boyfriends and husbands (domestic abuse/rape, emotional fleet), and children (motherhood, miscarriages, etc.)...

These things are often utilized to drive a plot forward without being delved into in any particularly meaningful way (for example, a woman might get raped but then there's no exploration of the trauma she lives with for years afterwards)...

While story tellers can tell incredible stories about these topics, some feminists feel like most story tellers perpetuate the notion that women are only interesting (or worthy of having their stories told) when they are doing something in reaction to a man or are raising children...

Chellnisnt any of those things...



Have a nice day...

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Gotcha, so there not being any men present makes it a feminist game. Appreciate the insight.

I honestly can't think of many video games where a female protagonist is dominated by their struggle with their father/husband/children.  I would think the more tropey thing to do would be that women only exist to get rescued by the male protagonist, like Zelda or the various Mario princesses as that's something that seems far more common to me.

Now I'm wondering if the various Japanese "yuri" erotic games would be considered feminist because they do not have any men present.

Last edited by Megiddo - on 10 September 2018

Megiddo said:

Gotcha, so there not being any men present makes it a feminist game. Appreciate the insight.

I honestly can't think of many video games where a female protagonist is dominated by their struggle with their father/husband/children.  I would think the more tropey thing to do would be that women only exist to get rescued by the male protagonist, like Zelda or the various Mario princesses as that's something that seems far more common to me.

Now I'm wondering if the various Japanese "yuri" erotic games would be considered feminist because they do not have any men present.

It's not that men are not present, it's that they are not there to create a dynamic where the focus is on the woman's sexuality or fertility...

The damsel in distress is most certainly THE trope of all tropes; I bring up the other tropes not because thy are super prevalent in video games, but because you will commonly see them in books, movies, and TV...

A good feminist character who interacts with men would be Bayonetta...

Yes, she's extremely sexual, and male gamers may find it appealing, but she is in control of her sexuality; she is not sexual in order to get gratification or validation from men, she's constantly "feeling her oats" as a drag queen would say...

She loves her body and her sexuality but it's not central to the story or driving the story forward in a manner that makes the plot unrelatable; basically, she's more than her sexuality...



Have a nice day...

RolStoppable said:
Flilix said:

Feminist games are games that make me uncomfortable because they threaten my masculinity and try to make me believe that women can be strong and independent without needing the help of a man. I avoid buying them because I don't want to get brainwashed by evil SJW companies.

Whoa there, youngster. Don't do this without supplemental material. Here, the VGC community has got your back:

http://gamrconnect.vgchartz.com/thread.php?id=117163

Thanks Rol!

RolStoppable said:

Obedience breeds discipline. Discipline breeds unity. Unity breeds power. Power is men.

Yes! Femalists won't take away our hobby! We are power!



Based on what I've played, I agree that Lost Legacy, Last of Us, and Life is Strange focus more so on the female point of view and have a touch of feminism in them, but it's quite tasteful and not what I would call radical by any means. In terms of HZD, the only 'feminist' plot point you could point to is the fact that it's a woman that's portrayed as the good 'guy' and the bad guys are certain males. Otherwise she's just an intelligent curious rebel who breaks the rules, but rules that hold back everyone in the tribe equally.

To me, the reason these are seen as feminist games, is because typically in the past, you would expect only strong main male characters. Sure, Tomb Raider is an exception, but clearly there is a push to get more strong female characters into the limelight, in all media, and so that change is seen to be connected with the more radical feminist movements in everyday life. I would agree that no doubt it's part of the reason, but that doesn't automatically make those games themselves feminist per se.

Last of Us 2 will be interesting to see how it actually turns out. It looks like it could actually go full out feminist, but even if they want to, I get the feeling they will play their cards extremely carefully with all the controversy around the topic right now. I don't see them pulling a Nike, but we'll see.



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John2290 said:
GameOverture said:

I'm no expert, but feminism has many branches and I'm pretty sure some of them would consider Portal to be, if not a overtly feminist game, at least a "feminist-friendly" one. Portal 1 is probably one of the few games that would pass the Bechdel test (maybe not since Chell is silent, but I'd argue the test probably needs to be adapted a little in order to make sense for videogames)

They have a test for that... what the fuck. What purpose would this test prove useful for, to lock yourself out of potential IP's you may like or to lock yourself in. Modern feminism must be a cult, the women who fought for women's rights would be ashamed. 

The test is more of a way of showcasing how women are portrayed in media, if at all. It points out how much women are usually portrayed in relation to a man, instead of as independent individuals. To pass the test, the work only needs to show two or more women characters interacting with each other without mentioning men for like 5 minutes or something. You'd think there would be a lot of media that passes the test, but the actual numbers are surprisingly small.



My FFVI analysis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSO6n8kNCwk

My Shadow of the Colossus analysis: https://youtu.be/9kDBFGw6SXQ

I don't get it. Why would you even try to label games as such? Portraying something isn't the same a advocating it. And if you're not advocating things are can you really be considered an -ism?



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GameOverture said:
John2290 said:

They have a test for that... what the fuck. What purpose would this test prove useful for, to lock yourself out of potential IP's you may like or to lock yourself in. Modern feminism must be a cult, the women who fought for women's rights would be ashamed. 

The test is more of a way of showcasing how women are portrayed in media, if at all. It points out how much women are usually portrayed in relation to a man, instead of as independent individuals. To pass the test, the work only needs to show two or more women characters interacting with each other without mentioning men for like 5 minutes or something. You'd think there would be a lot of media that passes the test, but the actual numbers are surprisingly small.

I guess it would also not that big number for 2 or more men talking to not mention a woman for over 5 minutes.



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EricHiggin said:

Based on what I've played, I agree that Lost Legacy, Last of Us, and Life is Strange focus more so on the female point of view and have a touch of feminism in them, but it's quite tasteful and not what I would call radical by any means. In terms of HZD, the only 'feminist' plot point you could point to is the fact that it's a woman that's portrayed as the good 'guy' and the bad guys are certain males. Otherwise she's just an intelligent curious rebel who breaks the rules, but rules that hold back everyone in the tribe equally.

To me, the reason these are seen as feminist games, is because typically in the past, you would expect only strong main male characters. Sure, Tomb Raider is an exception, but clearly there is a push to get more strong female characters into the limelight, in all media, and so that change is seen to be connected with the more radical feminist movements in everyday life. I would agree that no doubt it's part of the reason, but that doesn't automatically make those games themselves feminist per se.

Last of Us 2 will be interesting to see how it actually turns out. It looks like it could actually go full out feminist, but even if they want to, I get the feeling they will play their cards extremely carefully with all the controversy around the topic right now. I don't see them pulling a Nike, but we'll see.

There are a couple of things that I think are worth clarifying. In the OP, I listed two categories, not one, and that was meant as sort of a thematic hierarchy of feminist qualities, as I see it. The games in the second category are somewhat less compatible with my idea of what feminism is than those in the first category, but still have many pro-feminist elements in my view.

With that said, lesbian feminism (the small school of thought I subscribe to) is considered to be a branch of radical feminism and I would have to agree that there aren't really any video games that clearly and specifically qualify as radically feminist. What I was gauging were like degrees of compatibility with lesbian feminism. I think you will find that feminist ideas exist in the following spectrum...

separatism <----------------------------------------------> integration

...with degrees of radicalism being measured essentially in degrees of female separatism. In this spectrum of ideas, female-only communities obviously represent the most radical end of the spectrum, while intersectionality theory and gender identity politics conversely represent the liberal, more mainstream end of the spectrum. Liberal women want admission to the existing society, radical women are more inclined to try and form their own because they view the existing society as structurally masculinist, i.e. ultimately non-reformable. It's essentially a question of on who's terms positive change for women can be best realized: can we persuade men to afford us an equal station or can we achieve liberation from a male-dominated societies and cultures only on our own terms?

I highlighted the games I did as compatible with my way of thinking on these matters because they focus narratively on relationships between females, and essentially on the cultivation of positive ones; on a sense of sisterhood, if you will. Very few video games (even ones that technically center a woman as the protagonist) actually do that. Strikingly, even many games that use female lead characters won't have any other female characters at all, for example, or might utilize some kind of reverse-traditional trope like the dude in distress scenario or revenge for a murdered brother or husband or boyfriend as their main story arc. Games that actually focus on like promoting positive relationships between females, or just don't include male characters, are rare; far more so than their logical opposites. (In keeping with this, the reason, for example, that Life is Strange falls into the second tier rather than the first with me is because, while the bulk of the story that it tells is about the cultivation of female friendship, the game concludes by portraying that friendship as immoral. In say Uncharted: The Lost Legacy, by contrast, the narrative structure moves along the opposite trajectory, where a pair of seemingly incompatible women learn to work together and become friends.)

If there is one game that I would say is like THE most compatible with my way of thinking about these issues, it would be Gone Home. With its open celebration of early '90s riot grrrl culture (which was generally considered to be on the more radical end of the feminist spectrum ideologically, with its thematic emphasis on universal sisterhood, female naturalism, anti-corporate do-it-yourself culture-building, revolutionary change, and significant degrees of female separatism) and narrative focus on romantic intimacy between girls, I find that game to be especially compatible with my worldview, thematically speaking. That would be really the ultimate existing example of a feminist game, IMO.



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