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Gender Diversity / Politics in games (was Tropes Vs. Women)


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15 hours ago, Unofficial Who said:

And wrapping things up for Branching Narratives

 

https://www.usgamer.net/articles/branching-narratives-brenda-romero

 

 

 

 

Brenda started out working for Sir Tech back in the days of Wizardry, a series so old that most of us are probably too young to have played it. (She talks a bit about how transfixed she was by the flame animation in this game when she first saw it.)

 

 

Really good interview about her time in the industry and her retirement plans (she plans to spend it making Apple 2 games in assembly) and some great points about the woman tax in games. (In that when she talks about her new games she always has to wade through her experiences as a woman in the games industry for ages before getting to talk about her project whereas John just gets to talk about his projects.)

 

 


I've played it! My flatmate back in Uni days had an Apple II and the whole flat had a roster of characters.

 

You had a pool of 20 characters and built a party out of six of them. If your party died, you'd promise to do the washing up for a week, and one of your flat mates would take their characters in and pick up your bones to resurrect.

 

None of this multiple save slots malarkey. 

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This is a tragic story so give it a miss if you aren't up for it.

 

For a good few years a classic gamer and home brewer of Atari 2600 games has been harassing and threatening people related to Twin Galaxies. At one time he spent months (years?) harassing one writer and while it appears mental illness played a part there were a lot of guys who supported his views rather than taking him aside and saying "this isn't right."

 

Cat DeSpira wrote a massive piece in 2016 about the stalking behaviour of this guy.

 

https://retrobitch.wordpress.com/2016/11/30/radical-felines-when-harassment-becomes-a-game/

 



For some strange reason he’s convinced himself that my entire existence on this earth is to use my supernatural powers to make or break him.

Without missing a beat he moves over to Twitter and begins machine-gunning tweets. Due to Twitter only allowing 40 characters per post it takes him 22 successive tweets to get his message of doom across. But somehow that doesn’t satisfy his compulsive rage: Two hours later he’s linking a new series of expose-style blogs about on me on Facebook and Twitter, warning the world to be on the lookout for “A KNOWN FRAUD AND PATHOLOGICAL LIAR” and “A RADICAL FEMINIST IN GAMING” as well as a “Cxxx Bxxxx NEEDS TO BE STOPPED“. I report his tweets and move on. There’s not much more I can do.

However he’s still not finished yet.

Later in the afternoon a friend informs me that this shitposter has taken to Twitch TV and has assembled an audience to hear his latest rant about me.  I get the link and reluctantly watch it, a sick apprehension flooding my nerves. Why am I doing this to myself? Part of me doesn’t want to see it as I’ve seen others he’s done over the years on other targets; crazed paranoid rants about “corruption and collusion” and how everyone is out to hold “The World’s Greatest Gamer” back from his intended stardom. So I know what to expect. However this one is different  –very different, indeed.

What I discover is terrifying to me because I understand the psychology behind what I’m seeing and hearing: I see a man transitioning through various states of emotion without pauses; one second he’s raging in uncontrollable anger at me, and the next he flips into a calm state, smiling and leaning back in his chair nonchalantly as if he has no memory of the moment of rage before. This is a man who’s not in control of his reactive emotions at all. When he speaks of me he stares right into the camera, his vile comments directed at me as if I’m in the room with him and he wants to hurt me with more than words. Radical feline bitch. Fucking feminazi bitch. You dumb, fucking cunt bitch. Profanities that spill forth with unchecked abandon. “You’re an abomination against nature,” he seethes, his jaw clamped tight around every word, chin lowered menacingly to his chest as if he’s about to charge through the screen. “You are nothing. You are no one.”

He doesn’t view me as being human at all.

 

These are not the actions of a troll. This man isn’t protecting his anonymity. He’s using his full real name. He’s full-blown  confrontational and can neither distinguish nor separate his feelings of anxiety from that of his own self-deception in believing that someone else is the reason for it. This man is troubled. This man is a revenge stalker. He could be dangerous.

 

A lot of this was happening years ago and it still is.

 

The sad thing is the people at the time supporting him

 



On this particular day, there are nine men watching his stream. Men I know by name. Men who are competitors in classic gaming and some who are regular supporters and forum fixtures at Twin Galaxies, the American world record tracker on video games. One of them, peculiarly enough,  is a Twin Galaxies pod cast host. He calls in to the show via Skype. I find that odd. This is the last place he should be. Among the viewers are men I was once regularly in touch with on social media, men who I had helped and supported at live events, wrote articles on and was generally friends with, many of them for years.

In what I can only describe as the single most surreal moment in my life, I watch as the chat reveals just what they all really think of me because they aren’t just there for the freak show. They’re participants acting in support of it. They are without mistake aiding and abetting my stalker’s behavior. They’re his support group.

They type over each other, none of them pausing to question or answer a comment. Some accuse me of sexual debauchery with various men, while others accuse me of “conspiring against gamers for money”. Some claim I live in Washington State. Another says Oregon. I’m wondering why they want to know where I live.

Although the stalker podcast host may be the engine of hate, the men in the chat are without question his gasoline. Without them he’d have no momentum. No reason to continue.

 

The whole essay is worth a read, there's many examples there where women are thrown under the bus essentially to satiate or mollify the most toxic dude in the group.

 

In recent years many forums and other places started to recognise how toxic this sort of behaviour was and rather than tolerating him abusing people banned him from forums and other communities.

 

Sadly this story has a tragic ending with the man in question allegedly killing his ex-girlfriend before killing himself.

 

https://whdh.com/news/authorities-investigating-apparent-murder-suicide-in-dover-nh/amp/?

 

DOVER, N.H. (WHDH) - Authorities are investigating an apparent murder-suicide that occurred in Dover, New Hampshire earlier this week.

 

I've seen this sort of pattern play out a lot in communities where men aren't challenged when they stalk or harass, and are sometimes egged on. And years down the track this leads to someone (usually a woman but not always) getting harmed or killed. There needs to be better resources out there, one to deal with resourcing mental illness services but secondly to call out this sort of behaviour early.

 

 

 

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Wired has picked up the story now which brings the whole sad story together.

 

https://www.wired.com/story/retro-gaming-violent-tragedy-rudy-ferretti/?

 



IN 2015, RECORD-BREAKING retro game champion Rudy Ferretti made a homebrew game for the Atari 2600. It was called Pigs in the Castle. “I’m tired of all you feminists and your bullshit,” he said in a video preceding its launch. It’s understood that the pigs in the game are women.

The game’s official Facebook page describes how the purpose of the game is to “kill 100 or more pig bitches to get the boss.” He elaborates: “simple???????? Fuck no it’s my game it’s hard.” In a video of the game, preserved on the YouTube channel of “Rudy Ferretti aka the console player of the century,” Ferretti's character navigates a pixelated castle killing “evil” pigs.

On August 10, police in Dover, New Hampshire, discovered Ferretti deceased in his bed. A firearm lay nearby. In the same apartment’s living room, police identified the body of his ex-girlfriend, Amy Molter. According to a medical examiner, Molter and Ferretti both died of gunshots to the head—Molter from homicide and Ferretti from suicide, the police suspect. The investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deaths remains ongoing.

Longtime members of the retro and arcade gaming scene say they warned community leaders and even police about Ferretti’s threatening behavior for years. For close to a decade, they say, Ferretti had harassed, stalked, and threatened gamers, particularly women, pushing some out of the niche gaming scene entirely. He flashed guns in tirade YouTube videos and bragged on Facebook about bringing one to an event at the Museum of Pinball in 2017.

 

More at the link.

 

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So this isn't as bad as Ubisoft but...

 

https://www.rockpapershotgun.com/2020/08/20/rocksteadys-response-to-sexual-harrassment-allegations-is-inappropriate-and-bizarre/?

 

Follow recent reports that Rocksteady Studios failed to sufficiently address sexual harrassment, the Batman: Arkham developers have responded in a most curious way. While they have yet to issue a public statement themselves, they have posted an “unsolicited letter” from some of the employees behind the 2018 letter which first raised the issues. The new letter’s writers say they think Rocksteady have been better than was alleged. But without meaningfully addressing the allegations themselves, Rocksteady just casually posted that letter on Twitter. That makes it their first public response and defence, a purpose for which the letter is woefully inappropriate and inadequate. This is: mystifying



 

...

 

Seven of the eight employees remaining from the 10 who signed the 2018 letter say they think The Guardian did not fairly represent the matter. They think Rocksteady have done well, and say they didn’t want this matter made public. So they wrote a new letter. If their experience at Rocksteady is better now, I’m glad for them. If they want to publicly rebuke the Guardian, it is their right. What’s weird and bad is that Rocksteady leapt to hold these women up as a shield.

While Rocksteady say this letter isn’t their response, the way they share it on Twitter effectively makes it one. Their first public comment on the matter is basically “But some women say we’re better now.” That is so far short of acceptable. The letter does not admit to apparent management failings that led to that 2018 letter being necessary, it does not talk about disciplinary measures or lay out plans to improve. The fact that Rocksteady have hosted “workshops to help build self-confidence within male-dominated industries” is secondary to what they’re doing (or have done) about problems caused by men at their male-dominated company in this male-dominated industry. But the letter doesn’t need to talk about all that. It shouldn’t need to. That’s not the responsibility of these women, it’s Rocksteady’s – and their first response was a deflection.

 

 

There's a lot to unpack but the bit I've bolded is the bit that just seemed weird. There were issues involving sexual harrassment and one of the solutions was hosting “workshops to help build self-confidence within male-dominated industries?" That sounds really weird and tone deaf. Either that or their PR team was having a bad day when they thought publishing this on the company twitter account was a great idea.

 

 

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"workshops to help build self-confidence within male dominated industries" sounds very much like victim blaming "oh, it's not the blokes you work with or the workplace culture that's the issue, it's your lack of confidence"

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Three people have announced that they're leaving Lab Zero Games (Skullgirls, Indivisible), due to the behaviour of studio owner Mike Zaimont. (I recognise his name from his "MikeZ" Marvel Vs Capcom combo videos from nearly 20 years ago.)

 

https://www.gamasutra.com/view/news/368771/Devs_exit_Lab_Zero_Games_over_owners_persistent_pattern_of_misconduct.php

 

https://kotaku.com/multiple-people-accuse-skullgirls-developer-of-making-i-1844211683

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s kind of hilarious how everything is falling apart for MikeZ the year Skullgirls was finally going to get it’s due and outside of Evo online getting cancelled it is all his fault.

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The third of the tweets above goes into a fair bit of detail, if you're after specifics (besides the gross interaction with a fan and the George Floyd comments that have been covered elsewhere).

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I’m surprised that the creator of Skullgirls, the game with character designs that look like something you’d find doodled in red pen in a serial killer’s bible, turned out to be a creepo.

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Yeah, given that many of the resignees are the art team I'm not sure the art/character design was really that reliable of a red flag.

 

Also, some more resignations have followed:

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Following up on the story above https://www.kotaku.com.au/2020/09/skullgirls-developer-lays-off-everyone-who-hadnt-already-quit/

 

Lab Zero Games’ controversial owner Mike “Mike Z” Zaimont fired the studio’s entire staff last week following a series of high-profile departures, leaving several full-time employees and contract workers scrambling for support.



News of these mass layoffs became public yesterday thanks to former Lab Zero artist Jonathan “Persona” Kim, who helped promote fellow departee Marial Cartwright’s sketchbook sale to raise funds for the fired developers. As of this morning, Cartwright has sold through her stock, collecting thousands of dollars for her former co-workers.

“[For your information], Mariel has to do this because last week Mike laid off everyone who didn’t quit [Lab Zero], but hasn’t agreed to a severance for them yet,” Kim explained on Twitter.

 

It’s still unclear what kind of severance agreement, if any, Lab Zero included in the employee contract. In the August 25 email blast that announced the layoffs, Zaimont told his former employees to be on the lookout for an additional severance email of some sort and also promised to maintain health insurance through September.

Skullgirls property owner Autumn Games and Skullgirls Mobile developer Hidden Variable Studios have promised to keep the fighting game alive with the help of former Lab Zero Games staff for the foreseeable future. Annie, a long-awaited fan-favourite character, will be added to the mobile port this year before eventually heading to the main game in 2021, with more content to come later.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I didn't either until I clicked through for the full thing.

 

They're both long images. The left has man on top, woman on bottom. The right has woman on top, man on bottom. Both get clipped by the algorithm to show the man in the preview.

 

Someone else said it's actually to do with contrast, with the algorithm choosing a higher contrast part of the image to use in the preview, with the darker suited man being higher contrast than the woman. I can't say for sure if that's true, but appears to make some sense.

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3 hours ago, JohnC said:

Someone else said it's actually to do with contrast, with the algorithm choosing a higher contrast part of the image to use in the preview, with the darker suited man being higher contrast than the woman. I can't say for sure if that's true, but appears to make some sense.

 

At least in that example it was, someone tweaked just the contrast and it made the opposite choice both times.

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Some (hopefully) positive news in the aftermath of the Lab Zero controversy: 

 

Quote

The developers that once worked on games like Skullgirls and Indivisible at Lab Zero games have started a new studio that, from day one, places ownership in the hands of its employees.

That new endeavour is Future Club, a studio founded by the former Lab Zero staff that departed or were forced to leave the troubled studio following allegations of mismanagement and inappropriate behaviour levied against its current owner Mike Zaimont.

 

Gamasutra

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