GameSpot GamePlay Episode 38: Sexual Dismemberment

What's better than the possibility of another Homeworld game in the foreseeable future? Well, nothing. But here's another podcast episode anyway!

GameSpot GamePlay Episode 38: Sexual Dismemberment

Our guest couldn't make it, but that's ok: we've got more than enough to talk about anyway in this jam-packed episode, in which Andy Bauman contemplates an alternate world in which fishing enthusiasts might purchase a game called Sturgeon Simulator; Carolyn Petit talks about Burnout's beautifully glazed deliciousness; and Tom threatens to erect the Walls of Dumbwell.

Host Kevin VanOrd doesn't actually need to do much hosting, when he's got a group this rambunctious.

You can access all previous episodes on GameSpot here.

GameSpot GamePlay Episode 37: Mascara Galaxy

GameSpot GamePlay Special Edition Spoilercast: BioShock Infinite

GameSpot GamePlay Episode 36: Nosebleed Seats

GameSpot GamePlay Episode 35: Drink, Hamburger, and Afro Pick

GameSpot GamePlay Episode 34: Junk Deodorant

GameSpot GamePlay Episode 33: Salmonella Commendation

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Discussion

58 comments
DeVi360
DeVi360

Really need more new podcasts. Please guys!


X-Robert
X-Robert

The default look of Laura Craft in the new Tomb Raider seems more power fantasy than sex appeal to me, since it obviously pay homage to the original Die Hard.

X-Robert
X-Robert

I personally would like to see a Homeworld Space Sim though I am going to give Gearbox the benefit of doubt.

The_Last_Ride
The_Last_Ride

I don't understand Carolyn fretting over this, this isn't damaging at all. Why are you overreacting to this? Jeez... The artist of this figurine has a freedom of speech, and you if you don't like his art then too bad. I don't get it why Carolyn is going so overboard with this. Making this a whole feministic issue. It's as simple as this, you can like it, even love it. Don't like it or even hate it, heck they even apologized for it, what more do you actually need, they also spent money on it. No one is forced to buy this version

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

as far as the dead island bust goes, I dont like it but i understand why they still sold it, they probably already had them made and they sank money into it, expecting them to just throw that money away is ridiculous.

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

I was surprised you guys wanted to move away from the serious topics thinking the audience wouldn't like it. Personally I prefer the more in-depth discussion segments to the game segments. If you want to do more topical stuff, why not make a separate "mature gamers" podcast? I'd listen to it for sure. 

DarthEnderX
DarthEnderX

So...I pretty much never do this, but I had to turn off this episode in disgust.

I can understand not liking what a game does, or what it's saying.  I can understand saying you hate it.  I can understand telling people not to buy it.

But when you're like saying things like "Games like this shouldn't exist."  "They shouldn't be allowed to do this."  "We should all get together to shame them into doing something else"...

I just...who the fuck do you think you are telling an artist what he should and shouldn't be allowed to make?

"Oh, games like this make people love war."  "Games like this make girls feel bad about themselves."  I'm sorry, but if you are such a weak willed person that you allow some video game or some collection of images to drastically influence your world view or alter the way you feel about yourself with no ability to assert your own sense of self over the medium, then you don't deserve to be interacting with ANY medium.  Ever.  You clearly aren't equipped with handling it.

You don't like what they're doing, that's fine, don't play.  You going to try and tell them they shouldn't be allowed to make it in the first place?  Go to hell.  You want to burn some books you disagree with while you're at it?

Get over yourselves.

Daavpuke
Daavpuke

Nordic is from Austria. Ugh.

crabbyprime
crabbyprime

I would like to point out that there are two other playable female characters in Dragons Crown; the Amazon and the Elf. The Amazon is an impossibly tall, overly muscular blonde woman wearing a metal bikini. The Elf is a Ranger. She wears a cloak, full tunic (with shorts) and boots that go just above the knee. I think that the character designs in this game are bonkers. Hell, look at the Fighter! One of his shoulders is twice the size of his head. But the art style has it's own charm and you get a sense of each characters personality through it.

I'm not going to comment any further on the discussion in the podcast since all I wanted to do was point out that there are other playable characters in the game. Some of which are just as impossible as the Sorceress.

MasterOfMordor
MasterOfMordor

Depending on the study you would like to cite as a source, anywhere between 20 and 40 percent of people who play games are women.

First let's assume that all of these women are "gamers" in the sense that they play "hardcore games".  If these women had a strong dislike to the characters they play as, they would simply not play the games.  Something akin to, if you don't like Howard Stern don't listen to his station or in a more extreme case don't pay for your satellite radio.  No one forces anyone to buy a multi hundred dollar gaming console or the $60 dollar game to play on it.  As with all things retail, vote with your wallet.

Now let's assume that these "gamers" are the iPhone/iPad game players, who will pay .99 to play a game for an hour or two and forget it exists.  Depending on how any of these studies are worded the results could be skewed.  If someone were to ask my girlfriend if she plays games she would say yes, and it is very true, she does indeed play games.  But she knows nothing of console gaming beyond what she sees me play.  The point to this is, if there was such a large and fervent demand for game designers to create quality video games in the image that females would like to be seen in, then these games would exist.  There is very likely a large number of women being counted that do not actually indulge in "hardcore gaming"  Most companies in the world are "for profit" so it would seem to hold true that if they could make a profit on these games, they would certainly make them.  It is not out of disdain for the females of the world that they do not exist, just a proclivity towards a better bottom line.  

skytrot
skytrot

So cartoon violence is fine but cartoon fantasy isn't? Honestly, the problem isn't with the creator of Dragon's Crown but rather with the general populace's way of thinking. The entire world of Dragon's Crown is so stylized, everything is exaggerated and the world can only exist in media. People bring up the Sorceress's design but fail to mention how exaggerated the other characters are. Every single one of them has weird proportions and that is the style of the game. None of the characters look realistic at all. I can understand the criticism of the character design if everything else was realistic (eg. the older Tomb Raiders) but this is pure fantasy, cartoon fantasy to be precise. Who's to say that characters in this fantasy world don't have boobs that size. It's art for god's sake. This isn't some game like Heavy Rain or Uncharted.

Also, while we're on the topic of boobs, why are boobs such a taboo. Breasts are a symbol of fertility and motherhood. People who think otherwise are probably people that think breastfeeding is sexual and shouldn't be allowed in public. Jason Schreier's problem was that he doesn't feel comfortable playing it in public but why is that so? He wouldn't be thinking that way if he didn't think of boobs in a sexual way and thinks that the game is supposed to represent reality.

IMO, it's the people who are complaining about this game that have problems as they can't distinguish between fantasy art and reality.

On a side note, check out ancient statues of fertility to see how ancient civilizations exaggerated parts of the human anatomy as symbols of fertility. Does Jason have any problems with these as well? 

With regards to Mikami, he is talking about the Survival Horror genre that was defined by Resident Evil. A balance of action and horror. Slender, Amnesia and the likes are not survival horrors by this definition as they are purely about getting away. There is no action involved in these games with the exception of the Lone Survivor He explains his definition in the behind the scenes video by IGN. He also doesn't outright say that there aren't any survival horror games, it's a mistranslation. He say that they are few and far between.

ErrorMacro1
ErrorMacro1

I agree that the industry has a huge problem with how it portrays women, but there is something about the idea of shaming artists to draw their characters a certain way that really made my skin crawl. I feel an artist should be free to express themselves however they please. I suppose the hard thing to do is distinguishing between artwork done because it's the vision the artist wants to portray, and artwork done purely for the purpose of appealing to a demographic to improve sales.  The former is fine, the latter is gross.  I would say the latter is probably more problematic in big companies where the artists would have a smaller say in the game's overall direction, but there's no real way to tell the difference without being able to read someone's mind.

pcty
pcty

Game Spot Gameplay needs to bring a woman editor or developer to discuss this topic it would be more interesting to hear the opinion of the affected part.

Conan1985
Conan1985

<Add minority group> are poorly represented in video games! There is next to none as lead characters WTF! There are more men play games than women so they are more male orientated. I don't see the problem, there are plenty of games where you can choose your character, there are also plenty of female leads. I can name loads of games with female leads its not like there are one or two there are tons. 

When i see an actual group of women complain about this i will take it a little more seriously. Until then your just talking crap.

Name a single game where the man doesn't have a 6 pack. I am struggling.

g7o7
g7o7

This reminded me more of the old-school Hotspot, while I enjoy the more scripted shows, when it's a week rich in news like this one, with a nice addition of the metagame, it's definitely as enjoyable =)

Rodrigo_AA
Rodrigo_AA

About Square Enix saying that Tomb Raider wasn't successful have one question, they really lost money with that game or they just don't got everything they were expecting? Those are two different thing and if I remember they weren't verry clear about that in their statement. 

JivetheGamer
JivetheGamer

Hello Kevin, I really enjoy the intro music to this show. Could you tell me what it is? I would really appreciate it!


Lord_Python1049
Lord_Python1049

I would listen to a discussion about The West Wing :p

Gallowhand
Gallowhand

Thanks for another great Gameplay episode. :)

Duskyjr
Duskyjr

I really wish there was a separate Download tab outside the player graphics thingy for us vita users on the go. Thanks for the episode all the same though one of my favs keep up the good work!!

frozenux
frozenux

Most of the people complaining about the absolutely heinous and atrocious objectification of genders are themselves the faaaaaaaaaaaaaarthest away from anything that would be objectified.

g1rldraco7
g1rldraco7

Good conversation although every podcast has one. :)

zenstrata
zenstrata

Some women enjoy looking sexy. Just like some guys enjoy looking sexy. I have no problem with this in real life, nor do I have a problem with this in games. If you want everyone in games to dress in frumpy shapeless clothes and hide under a burka, then you are being unrealistic. As an example, when I go to the gym I dress in shorts and a tight shirt. Partially this is for useful purposes, it keeps the clothes from getting caught in the weight machines during the exercises, and it helps wick away moisture to keep me cool. BUT it also accentuates my musculature, and I enjoy showing that off. Women often dress in tight or revealing clothing for the same purposes. If I were a good looking woman, I would probably show that off whenever possible too.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

On the next podcast, can you guys talk about Monster Hunter Tri Ultimate? Thanks.

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Hmm. Graphics. There's a small logic I mentioned before. If the graphics is excellent but the gameplay sucked, it's fun to look but no to play. The other way around is ugly to look but fun to play? The exception like Ocarina of Time on the N64, Metal Gear Solid 4, Grand Theft Auto 4, Goldeneye and Perfect Dark on N64 are rare examples of having graphics and gameplay work in harmony. So what's more important, polygonal counts or just enjoying the videogames for entertainment?

johnnyauau
johnnyauau

Of yeah! Women in leads. It's the same old story that if the men are hot, we're going to show them as sexy killing machines as men we're suppose to fall in love with instead of women. I do wish developers and publishers are more open minded and less sexist when it comes to women and people in different races. I mean, the Metroid Prime series has a female lead but it focuses on first person, third person exploration through space then the beauty and could've make you horny? I'll leave that up to your imagination.

Who says a woman has to be weak? (San Shang Xiang, Dynasty Warriors 5)

The_Last_Ride
The_Last_Ride

@DarthEnderX i agree, i don't really get it why Carolyn is going on a bashing tour on some collectors item or the game itself. He/She might not like it, but jeez... If you don't want that don't freaking buy it. Nobody is forcing you to buy this stuff, stop being nannies to everyone saying what is wrong or anti-feministic. Gamers(guys and girls) are allowed to think for themselves and decide if they want it or not. And if they find it offensive, people won't buy it... Sheesh....

grey_fox1984
grey_fox1984

@DarthEnderX You do realize that every one on that podcast is a gaming critic and their livelihood is based entirely on having opinions on these matters right? I'm not saying you have to agree with them, but how is your criticism of their opinions different from their criticisms of how women are portrayed in games? 


The smart thing to do, would be to listen to their argument, and formulate your own in a civilized manner. I agree with you in the sense that I don't think art should be censored, or that people should be FORCED to include different elements in a work (be it a book, game, movie ect). However, you also need to understand that artists assume the responsibility of being subject to criticism once their product is available to the world. To say what someone has to create, or to prevent others from having an opinion on that creation, are both infringements of freedom of speech and expression. 

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

@pcty anyways, I agree.  woman's perspective would be nice. I like caro, but as you said, she is not a real woman even if she really wants to be one.

TomMcShea
TomMcShea moderator

@pcty Carolyn does a great job of explaining her position, but it would be great to hear from outside sources as well. The more smart people on the podcast, the better.

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@JivetheGamer It's called "Wind Farm" and comes from an audio library we subscribe to. It's great, isn't it?

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@frozenux Translation: "If I don't find you attractive, you have no room to complain about misogyny." Way to prove the point, and in such a relatively offensive way, too!

Wawas20
Wawas20

@zenstrata good on u mate. but games do need to be more balanced. but there making out that games are so much worse then any other media which there not. most shows today have to show some flesh and have to look like a model to get work on tv or movies 

Kevin-V
Kevin-V moderator staff

@zenstrata Would you enjoy being defined only by your body, and having it be your only noteworthy characteristic? Would you enjoy being treated more like an object to be gazed upon than a human being with no more to offer than breasts, and the possibility of a sexual encounter? 

As Carolyn said, there's nothing intrinsically wrong with depicting attractive women with large breasts. But the huge majority of women in games are depicted in a way meant to turn guys on. And, it seems, a lot of those players are perfectly fine with having all of those women depicted as objects of desire. Developers cater to those people--and those same people feel wronged when someone suggests that developers shouldn't. It is the very definition of privilege.

I want to see developers do better than this. And I want to see players do better than that, too. Sadly, it will take a cultural shift for that to happen. Women are treated in this way across all media and in all aspects of society, in varying degrees. Games reflect and magnify this, and in turn, we internalize that reflection and propagate it. I am grateful that we can talk about this, and we can finally say: hey, it's not ok that every game give us women meant to be ogled and sexualized. And if game makers make an effort to treat their female characters with respect, maybe that can be one step towards game players expecting better in all walks of life. 

Just because something doesn't bother you doesn't mean it isn't a problem, and that it isn't harmful.  

DarthEnderX
DarthEnderX

@grey_fox1984 A critics job is to have opinions on whether something is good or bad.  Not whether something and everything like it should exist or not.

What they were doing in that episode was not criticism, it was advocating censorship.

And yeah, I know I'm just supposed to formulate my own opinion.  Which is exactly what I did.  I'm of the opinion that their attitude is bullshit.

frozenux
frozenux

@Kevin-V@frozenux I never said anything about the "average" person(as in me included) not being able to talk about gender objectification.I just stated something i noticed.Most people complaining about objectification are in hardly any situation of being objectified themselves and we hardly hear anything from the actual people being objectified,it should normally be the opposite.It's like that picture(on the web) of that relatively less attractive woman picketing in front of Hooters against women being objectified,with the waitresses,next to her, laughing at her.I would understand if these women were forcefully dragged there in chain and coerced into wearing those attires.But that's not the case,they made the decision to be there,they are not brain dead and are free to use their bodies the way they see fit.But that's just a digression.

I think what's bothering people in reality  is that those ,i will dare say,"Apex appearances" depicted in games are far from what most people look in reality.It's almost like a slap in the face.And sexual objectification isn't the only objectification in games.We have always been presented with this archetype of the good looking,with amazing hair,well defined and muscular male hero but i hardly recall any guy complaining about it.

Also i don't know what is about you people(in the US) with sex and the female body in general anyway.I'm french, i don't have that puritan heritage and it's kind of hard for me to understand.I don't understand how it's perfectly normal to hack/slash dead women in bikinis in a game but the minute you make an actual statue of it,everyone is in uproar.Same reasons why some commercials in Europe aren't aired in the US.

zenstrata
zenstrata

@Kevin-V @zenstrata In response to the initial questions, I would not be offended if someone were to do that to myself.  In fact this already occurs in society regularly.  I would even go so far as to say that we humans use this type of classification to our advantage at times.  Part of the point of dressing in particular types of clothing is to use our natural assets to our advantage.  Hollywood does this regularly in their movies, many normal people do this every day when they wake up and pick out clothes for the day.

But simply because someone chooses to dress in a provocative manner does not infer that is all there is to that individual.  When I look on an attractively dressed woman, I appreciate that she takes care of her body, I also appreciate that she has put time and effort into her appearance because it says she cares about how she presents herself.  One of my personal criteria for dating for example is physical fitness - a healthy body is key to maintaining a healthy mind.  The mind and body are not separate, but indelibly linked in very important ways.

But getting beyond all that - when I am playing a video game I recognize that I am dealing with a fantasy environment.  This means I am willing to accept that some things will be idealized inside this fantasy world.  This applies to both men and women, neither sex is immune to this phenomenon.  While I will agree that the large breast phenomenon is out of control, I am not offended in any way when people choose to dress in attire which accentuates their physical characteristics.

I would also suggest that women enjoy physically fit sexy looking men as much as men enjoy physically fit sexy looking women - If this standard encourages both sexes into taking greater physical care of their bodies such as encouraging them to get into a gym once in a while, or eating healthier diets, or just going on a jog occasionally, then I see this as a Good Thing.

Wawas20
Wawas20

@Kevin-V @zenstrata geez he kicked a mole hill didnt he. uve taken him out of context and reading too much into it. this part of gamespot that u two always seem to write is the main reason i find ign better. im not getting attacked by agenda there.

FreedomPrime
FreedomPrime

@pcty @FreedomPrime @TomMcShea It wasn't offensive. Her/his gender is a state of mind (obviously since physically he was born as a male) which could be considered as an opinion, if he/she is entitled to hers then so should you. it is my opinion that he is not a female. Granted he can live his life the way he wants to be.

zenstrata
zenstrata

@unreal101 @frozenux @Kevin-V I suggest that these people are not giving these characters a chance, they see the breasts or giant muscles, and they choose to ignore every other facet of the character and focus their entire attention on what they personally disagree with.  Often I have discovered that if a person spends enough time with the character in question, they usually find more depth and history which they were previously unaware of.  This makes the character much more of a complete & real person, instead of just a big muscly guy, or an over-endowed girl.

unreal101
unreal101

@frozenux @Kevin-V  You've definitely missed the point here. The issue isn't that there is a sexual element present; it's that the sexual element is the only focus for many female characters, and is more important than their humanity or personality. That handsome male lead you mention is usually very intelligent, charismatic, and charming in addition to being attractive; he has other traits that are more important than his looks. His busty female sidekick, however, is usually nothing more than an excuse to give the watchers something attractive to look at. That's the problem being discussed.


zenstrata
zenstrata

@Lord_Python1049 @zenstrata @Kevin-V I often feel that as a society we are often guilty of taking things too far with these movements to make things 'politically correct' or trying to fit some sort of arbitrary moral code which is quite honestly simply an extension of our social/religious history.  We should be more open minded in general and not try to force people into these oppressive molds just to satisfy our own qualms about what may be 'proper' behavior.

I am a big proponent of freedom and self expression.  I believe that people should be free to do whatever they wish, so long as they are not hurting anyone else when they do those things.  As a famous person named Thomas Jefferson once said, "... it does me no injury ... It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg." The point here being that whatever a person wants to do, they should be free to do, so long as they are not injuring others in the process.

When addressing the issue of cosmetic surgery, that falls very clearly into the realm of individual action which should be a free form of personal expression.  So long as the person understands the risks involves, it is their body and they should be free to do with it as they please.  The same condition applies to someones apparel choices.  When I see a man or woman dressing themselves up in a costume which happens to accentuate their bodies natural features, I am never offended - no matter how much or little clothing this person has chosen to wear.  Instead I see a person who is confident themselves and their body.  Someone who is comfortable enough with who they are to challenge the 'status quo'.

Instead of creating a culture where people are taught to be ashamed of who they are, we should be celebrating life by allowing and encouraging freedom of expression in mind & body.

Lord_Python1049
Lord_Python1049

@zenstrata @Kevin-V The problem is there is an imbalance in the sexualisation of men and women. It's also more damaging in the way women's appearances are given priority over other features such as intellegence, courage, etc. This sends a message to young women that they should care only about their looks as that is the feature most valued by society. This kind of messaging has resulted in the lack of women in science and engineering fields, all the things we read about women's body issues and the booming cosmetic surgery industry. Do you have a daughter? if you did, wouldn't you be concerned about all this harmful messaging?