I hate this topic so very, very much. I spent way longer than maybe I should have contemplating whether I wanted to type this here blog out, but here goes.
Sexism in gaming. Yes, I'm going into that tornado, even knowing what I'm about to subject myself to.
See, the second-to-last The Point has me once more thinking about this topic, and while I agree that it's something that needs to change if gaming is to ever evolve, I also think that the topic has to nuance itself a bit more.
See, while there are discussions about what happens in the workplace of gaming - where the real issue is - so much of our time is spent talking about character appearance. Once a woman in tight outfit or a low-cut blouse comes on screen, that's what they are. No one talks about her personality or role in the story (save when a Mario game comes out and the tired Princess Peach rants are recycled). Nope, it boils down to tits and ass, because heaven forbid women be beautiful, right?
I find it funny because the PS3/360 generation has given us some of the most interesting female characters in recent memory, from Bayonetta and Morrigan (Dragon Age) to Oerba Yun Fang and Crystal Dynamics' recent re-imagining of Lara Croft. Even characters like Sheva Alomar, Anya Stroud and Princess Hilda have their moments.
Unfortunately, when the discussion only ever goes negative, when the Anita Sarkesians of the world turn every low top and pretty face into some attack on all women everywhere, it obscures the real problem - that women working in the industry have a shit time in a lot of companies.
Also, the assumption that "dudebro" games are somehow what men want to be is pants-on-head retarded, not to mention very, very selective. The assertion that games like Gears of War are "power fantasy," or that all - or even most - men want to be the sort of mindless slabs of beef that detractors think of the Gears characters is a prime example of the misandry that prevents either side from finding common ground.
On a side note, the word "misandry" wasn't in the Firefox spell checker. That should tell you everything you need to know about how one-sided the sexism debate is.
So what common ground do all gamers, male and female, have?
1. We like video games. No shit, right? We don't like being pigeonholed into the nonsense of casual/facebook/social games.
2. We're getting increasingly tired of the increasingly iterative business model of so many games companies. We like variety, so long as the games are still fun.
3. We'd rather not have characters in larger games be cardboard cutouts or tired ass cliches. Interesting characters make for better game stories, which helps with long games, especially marathon-length RPG games and similar.
4. We want the most qualified, passionate people making these things, as that's the best way to make better, more thoughtful games.
I'm sure we can come up with more common ground, but that's a good place to start. None of these things are helped by women being made unwelcome or uncomfortable in the gaming industry. Nor is it helped by harassing and punishing female gamers. Indeed, quite the opposite is true; by narrowing who is allowed to work in gaming or play games, stagnation will reign supreme, at least until gaming dies entirely, which is entirely possible given how shaky many game companies' financial standing seems to be.
None of this precludes women (or men) who dress or act in a sexually provocative manner. Sex, as we all know, is pretty cool too. The issue is when sex appeal is all that a woman has, which is what makes games like Scarlet Blade such a chore to play. Fun, interesting ideas, depth, these are universal things that both men and women enjoy.
We also enjoy being respected. No one wants to feel like they don't matter or, worse, like they're being pushed out because of their gender (or religion, sexual orientation, etc, etc...). A welcoming industry integrates diverse people into it, and thus has more and more diverse ideas, which helps to combat stagnation as you have different people coming up with ideas to please more and more diverse audiences.
That, in the end, is why sexism in gaming needs to be approached in a deeper way than "this character has huge tits, BURN THE WITCH!" Ending sexism in the gaming workplace helps us all, making for more and more diverse ideas. And ideas, in the end, are what gaming requires to survive.