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Aaron

Sexism in Gaming

174 posts in this topic

This is great, I'm so glad Wyrd is responding to this in a measured and thoughtful way thank you, I had a longer statement I was going to post but after reading this it would mostly repeat what was written here . thank you so much for being on the ball about is.

P.S

12 minutes ago, Aaron said:

Additionally, I'd like to say that claims that "I've never seen it" or "it's not all communities" are not beneficial to the discussion.

This is great, Its forgotten all to often

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One thing I'd like to see is more acceptance not only of race and gender(these are not typically a problem in my area), but also of the LGBT community. I've heard stories at conventions of wargamers in other games who came out as LGBT, but left the hobby soon after. Each story had different reasons for not going to tournaments or game nights any more.

I feel this might be more of at the store level as that's where wargames are typically played. I'd like it if maybe a henchman or two could just put on a demo poster at a store or on their forum post that they are accepting of LGBT. I know I wouldn't mind. Hell there probably is someone out there doing it and props to them if they are.

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48 minutes ago, Aaron said:

Thanks, and happy gaming.

And that is what I'm here for. Really, you've got enough models to fill out 35 / 50 SS games? Let's play, then, whoever you are!

It really should be as easy as that and I'm sad that it isn't so and that not only goes for sexism, but anything. We are all here to have a great time and / or challenge ourselves and sometimes to find a cool excuse to hang out and sometimes forge new friendships.

I'm also honest here. I don't need to be friends with every oppoent I'm facing on the table, or have reasons to not play a particular opponent, but I still can be polite to that person and it shouldn't because of gender or aynthing else (i.e. sexual preference), than I just don't enjoy being around the person (character traits).

 

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Here, here, here and here, I explained my opinion about this issue. That thread might be the root of all of this current discussion, and it wasn't handled in the same level-headed way Wyrd handle the current discussion.... and it ended in disaster. Still, there were some very good arguments in there, some good discussion, and some good exchange.

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Very glad to see the official responses from Wyrd on this, and at the same time, I will say it's not enough. Not enough, only because it can never be enough, coming from a company that puts out the rules and miniatures of our games. We can call them out on the styling and diversity of their models, their response to forum posts, the pronouns they use in their books, but the challenge is to the players, the people down at the local, the organizers, players, and browsers of conventions and tournaments. These are the people, us, everyone reading this and all our gaming friends, that are the ones in the places these things can happen, and can be stopped. When you're packing that one model to be prepared to face the gimmick of the moment, also prepare yourself to be the one who will say something when someone is out of line, or to be the back up and support for those who step up first. Actively work towards that goal, keep an ear tuned for something going bad, put up signs at the tournaments and store, let people know this is a safe space, like it, respect it, get on with some fun games, or leave.

At the end of the day, we're all just looking for games. That only happens when people feel safe to go out in the world and do it. I've got 3 female grandkids that one day I'd love to see find a group of gamers like I have now, and the only way that stays a possibility is if we put the effort in now to make things safe, so that as the next waves of people come in, the standard, expected way to act at these events is inclusive of all people. People learn from what they see. If they see abuse, large or small, it becomes the accepted, the inevitable. If they see abuse stopped, refused, denied, they learn that it isn't the standard, to stop it, to promote safety. Putting posts up on a forum and calling it a day isn't enough, it's an every day, every game thing.

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2 hours ago, Aaron said:

The name of the first character had some unintentional phonetic similarities that made a player uncomfortable. As soon as the issue was raised we immediately changed the character's name.

 

Which one was that?

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2 hours ago, Aaron said:

Additionally, I'd like to say that claims that "I've never seen it" or "it's not all communities" are not beneficial to the discussion. This is anecdotal at best (as expressed by Nathan in his thread on community), and, at worst, it minimizes the experiences that others are having. I believe that these sort of statements often come from a place of trying to express solidarity (i.e. "You would be welcome here!"), but they approach it the wrong way. Despicable behavior exists in the gaming world, whether you see it or not.

@Aaron, thank you so much for your well phrased and thought out response to this. This issue can get very emotional for everyone involved and so many people want to jump to the rescue of their community that they don't consider that saying "I've never seen it happen" diminishes the legitimate concerns of those who have had it happen to them or have witnesses such occurrences. I've previously abstained from this conversation for exactly those reasons; I didn't want to add to the noise without bringing something constructive to the conversation.

Having run a retail game store in the past I can say that for my part while I have never personally witnessed major transgressions (but I do know they occur in some communities), I would witness and hear minor discriminations on a daily basis that seem like nothing at the time but add up to an environment where some don't feel welcome and where larger infractions seem acceptable. Calling something "gay" in a negative way or using casual slurs against one's sex, race, or sexual preference (the common, specific terms I won't write here), even in a joking matter that doesn't directly apply to anyone involved, is not acceptable and allowing it to occur within your community can normalize it so that people don't realize it's unacceptable behavior. When you hear someone in your community say something inappropriate it can be as simple as saying "Dude, not cool. Don't say stuff like that." to get someone to realize that what they thought was just friendly banter is in reality unacceptable language.

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20 minutes ago, Archilus said:

Which one was that?

Anna Lovelace.

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For me there are 3 topics:

_ Models and what they represent

_ Behaviour with women

_ Attitude towards LGBT

About the models, I like to have sexy women to paint so I am OK with some of them, as long as the sexyness is part of the individual story and other less sexy female characters counterbalance this fact. For me, the perfect example of sexism is the comic book industry where boobs have grown in size in the last decades and clothes have become sexier for no reason (Catwoman I am looking at you !). So, although it is nice to be a guy and check those sexy girls, it is also promoting a certain view of women. We can reassure ourselves by stating that male superheroes are also muscular and half naked but I still find it not OK that girls of power all have to be half naked and have G size boobs (some yes but not all).

About the behaviour with women, I have only experienced moments where gamers were friendly to girls because they are so few in the hobby. They are thus especially protected. In non-gaming life however, I have seen so much sexism and harrassment cases that I can easily believe that the gaming industry is not immune to such bad behaviour.

About the attitude towards LGBT, usually they don't speak with people about their sexual preferences (and often rightly so, for fear of rejection). So in fact the rare conflicts I have seen are related to people making second degree jokes and inadvertently offensing gay people. This is quite regrettable but could maybe be solved by better communication on both sides. Nevertheless, real life is not always very nice to LGBT so again, I am sure the gaming community is not immune to bad behaviour. As a side note, I have never seen any gay character in any miniature game.

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Glad to see a statement like this as something official, nicely put.

Yool's sentiment about a lack of LGBT is something I'd like to respond to, though- it's great that Wyrd's making a statement, but it's essentially one of tolerance (anti-discrimination) rather than actual inclusion (in this context, representation in the setting/story).

It isn't at all saying that Wyrd is morally obligated to do something past the sort of statement above (which, again, is good to see), and there's a decent chance that they'd see backlash due to it (Wyrd's not as high-profile as the recent Baldur's gate deal, but I'm sure there's a good chance some people would get angry about it), but, well, it would be a pretty impressive statement, since, as yool said, I at least have never seen it done in minis gaming.

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1 hour ago, yool1981 said:

As a side note, I have never seen any gay character in any miniature game.

Infinity has a transgender character (Avicenna) and, well, Carnevale has Gnagas (gay prostitutes who dress as women - this is based on history but can't be considered a positive representation) but that's all I can think of. Which is indeed really sad. OTOH there aren't all that many minis game characters whose sexuality is known but it wouldn't kill to have some (positive) representation, surely.

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One point I would like to address is that BOTH "It doesn't happen here" or "It happened here at this one place"  are Anecdotal.   This doesn't mean that they are equal in standing, but the point remains.  Dismissing one as "anecdotal" and holding fast to another anecdotal instance isn't exactly the best way to handle things.   

 

This shouldn't be a discussion about whether or not unfortunate things happen.  We know that they do.  For it to be a problem "in gaming" we need to see that it is happening MORE often than in society at large, OR if incidents that do happen are seen as OK or if the perpetrators are defended despite their guilt.   Lastly, another issue to discuss is if particular aspects of the game in question are hostile to groups or if they attract people who cause issues for some reason.   

 

I am in no way suggesting that we shouldn't allow people to share their story. However, raising awareness works two ways, exposing the people and places that do not live up to the standards we hope for, and by lifting up those people/places that do an excellent job of it.

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Thank you for addressing this, Aaron. It means volumes that Wyrd cares so deeply about issues such as this, not only to address accusations pointed at their own brand, but also how that affects the community at large.

I remember when I was a freshman in college. This was roughly 2010-2011, mind you. Fresh off the heels of high school, I didn't know anything about sexism and how ingrained it was in the general psyche. I remember having freshman orientation and having a seminar on violence against women. Not knowing better as to why we were in this mandatory seminar, I made light of it. I also didn't know that people were observing us from beyond a wall in the room. I lost a good friend that day. When I learned what went on I solemnly aimed towards a solution, which was simply to care more. Maybe it was a bit selfish to want to care more so I could regain friends and be happier myself, but in time that mindset just internalized and I was more conscientious for the sake of social equality in general.

My point in sharing this is that people already knew the lessons I had learned by the time I was getting to grasp them, and therefore it honestly shouldn't take as much as a traumatic experience to teach that sexism is bad.

I guess for some it does, like me, but overall... We are gamers. We can understand what a Horror Duel is, and how models initiate them, for example. We can thusly get that sexism is a bad thing, and what constitutes it, because they're all simple concepts when it boils down to it; if you cannot understand how that is so important and how to avoid it, perhaps you're not smart enough for tabletop gaming (or socializing, to be honest).

~Lil Kalki

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Jacob Lynch is gay. He uses his reputation as a ladies man to his advantage in business, but isn't attracted to the women he hires.

Mei Feng is asexual. She has never really considered it, but asexual is the word that fits from modern lexicon. The intricate workings of machines and the glowing flames of the fire are more interesting to her than the paltry excitement that flesh can offer.

Ironsides is pansexual. She is attracted to bodies, but more so to people. Gender doesn't really come into it for her. She is well read and well educated, and knows that such a label need not follow her all her life if something fits better.

 

My point, in that little bit of headcannon/fanfiction, is that people tend to assign a character with no stated sexuality as straight as that is 'normal'. There could be loads of LGBTQA models in Malifaux, because frankly, we just don't know.

 

Malifaux is strong in its representation of women, in that there is a mostly even split of male and female models. If their sexuality was important, I would think that Wyrd would be one of the companies where we would see an even split there as well.

 

Now, how that would be reflected in the COMMUNITY (the amount of people I have had to stare down when they 'joked' that all women in Malifaux land were lesbians because lure worked on them)? The problem with people is that they are slow to change, and when confronted with a need to change they revert to the hive mind. It is easier to be part of the problem than it is to admit you are part of it.

 

Most people, I think, are good people. They are all for seeing more positive representation of women but society has a way of telling them they are wrong. Did you know for example, when presented with a fifty fifty split of men and women, most people tend to think there are more women than men. It is our responsibility as a community to speak up in favour of the changes we want to see, and to support those developers that move in those positive directions.

 

This might be a little rambly, sorry. Hopefully there are some good points in there that people can work with though.

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1 hour ago, yool1981 said:

 As a side note, I have never seen any gay character in any miniature game.

Well, no openly gay characters. A couple of things stand in the way of this:

1)A lot of games don't deal with sexuality in any big way, or deal with it in one place only, and then really awkwardly (Hello Slannesh!).

2)A lot of fantasy is set in historical or psedo-historical time, and in most of those times, in most of those places being openly gay, trans, or gender non-conforming was a big no-no, and the games reflect that. If they do represent sexuality of the people in the time period, the creators will change it to reflect modern mores and norms. 300's painfully straight, and weirdly Helot-less, Spartans spring to mind.

3)This is still a hot button topic for a lot of folks. At least State side, very few people bat an eye at extreme violence, but sexuality is in many ways taboo. It's hardly an original observation that you can show a dozen bloody murders in prime time without censure, but show one woman's nipple and people. loose. their. minds. I'd wager plenty of companies have made the decision, consciously or otherwise, to just skip it. If it might hurt the bottom line, it probably won't be included. Gamers are a contentious and fractious lot without stirring them up.

4) Table top gaming is about mechanics, and what happens on the battle field, where as RPGs can have more space for relationships conversations, and other less, quantifiable interactions. This is probably why games like Pathfinder have more openly gay, bi, etc. characters than, say Warmachine. The fluff reflects this, in dramatizing then neat things these minis do on the table to get folks excited to buy and play those models. A story might show case Nicodem's awesome command of the dead, while leaving the tenderness of his Daddy-Boy relationship with Mortimer to be read between the lines.

Just my thoughts. Thanks to Aaron for opening the box---I mean starting this conversation!

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11th thunder--

I cannot begin to describe...

 

Actually, no, I can, since it's better than just taking offense and leaving it at that.

The idea that you can slap a minority identity on a character to fulfill your quota of minority representation indicates a really poor grasp of what it means to people of said minority status. I'm not white, and I've got friends and family who have different sexual identities than reg'lar old straight, and saying "Bam! Lynch can be gay without changing anything!" is kind of insulting. I'd much rather they stick with with some kind of shallow representations of race than suddenly deciding there aren't enough jews in the game and Ramos is Jewish 'cause that'll satisfy those diversity idiots.

And no, saying "you can pretend someone's a minority" or "you can infer it through lack of evidence to the contrary" aren't arguments either. Saying a blank slate means you could interpret it as a minority which is as good as including one is similarly not really looking at the big picture. Minorities have traditionally been underrepresented or poorly represented, and "representing" a minority by not stating they're not one does nothing.

Regarding your point about sexual orientation not coming up, well, it does. Kirai relationship with Francis which defined her early motivations; Seamus and Trixibell are certainly defined by sex; Leveticus is a lech; Rusty Alice was originally written with kind of a thing for Leveticus and Ramos; McCabe had a wife (fiancee?), pretty sure Rasputina had a family; those are what I can think of off the top of my head. There are most definitely representations of relationships and sex in the game.

 

 

Kad, hadn't heard that about Pathfinder, thanks for pointing it out. I assume you're talking about some campaigns?

 

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Myranda is also once identified as Marcus' "mate" to some displeasure from McMourning.

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... So you are saying you can tell someones sexual orientation by looking at them?

 

I don't understand how a 28mm miniature is supposed to convey sexual identification without falling back on tropes and stereotypes that I'm sure we'd all rather avoid.

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3 minutes ago, Dirial said:

Myranda is also once identified as Marcus' "mate" to some displeasure from McMourning.

I might be odd but I think that had more to do with McMournings family issues and the use of the word "mate" fits with Marcus more animistic qualities, I also do not think Marcus uses the word in a sexist way. Lets recall the time period about where the game takes place, i can not remember the exact date but mid to late 1800 sounds about right. Marcus who is depicted in art work as African, or at least darker skinned when compared to others, and Myranda who is Irish, we know this because she is related to McMourning, could have cause some issues with McMourning or the other answer is that he did not want his nice and a much older man hooking up, either works but I am betting the age gap was the bigger problem.

I am more concerned with sexism in the community then in the game models and fluff. It is up to up the players to call it out and stop it. Doing nothing about a problem is still making a choice and by doing nothing you are choosing to allow it to continue.

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1 hour ago, SpiralngCadavr said:

Stuff

I am sorry I offended you. 

Perhaps I should more have explained that I have these headcanons because it enables me to interact with the characters who are 'like me' as it were.

I didn't share how I feel about those characters to say 'Wyrd is doing enough in representation' I shared to say 'Media assumes the default is straight white male and we need to challenge that'

The fact that you have assumed that I am a straight white male with no understanding of what it means to be a minority though rather illustrates my point that society assumes that is the default and that is something we as a community need to address. 

I use the 'headcanon' because there needs to be more minority representation, not because there is enough

 

EDIT: All the relationships so far in canon are straight, which is fairly terrible, and to be honest most of the references seem pretty out of place to me.

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One of the reasons I adore this game so much is how widely varied their models are.  Speaking generally, I love how they have the "sexy" models like Colette and her Showgirls and also have models like Ironsides, Rasputina, and the December Acolytes who are all look tough in their different ways and are wearing reasonable clothing (the latter two especially compared to other ridiculous things in gaming like Sejuani's arctic bikini armor).

However I'm a white guy so my experience in this only really goes so far and I do find it unfortunate that some people have been having difficulties with harassment.  My condolences go out to them and I hope we can get better at this in the future.

There is one thing I'd like to point out as far as the above discussion in including a larger variety of models belonging to different groups in the game.  Don't worry, I have a positive point!  I have physical issues, a degenerative spinal disorder which thankfully isn't too bad now but by definition will only get worse.  Because of this I usually use a walking aid to get around and when I found out that this game had C. Hoffman, a wicked cool character with his own walking aid due to a serious illness I was thrilled!  So good on you Wyrd for having Hoffman in the game, and hopefully in the future other groups can have their own characters which make them feel like I did when I first saw him. :) 

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It's also worth noting that the setting is quasi historical in nature, and remaining somewhat true to that requires sometimes portraying attitudes and stereotypes that we would view as pretty backward and ignorant.  However, I imagine most all non-traditional relationships had to be hidden to one degree or another in turn of the century 1900 American west.  So it isn't "terrible" that the public relationships that are 'known' in the malifaux setting are the ones we would expect to see in the time period, it is reflective of the setting and time.

Is it "terrible" that Games of Thrones chooses to present Renly's homosexual relationship as needing to be kept secret, however poorly kept that secret is, or is it merely accurate of the setting (which is based on medieval Europe).    To somehow pretend that history isn't what it was does a dis-service to what different minorities, be they racial or of sexual orientation, went through in those times.

 

There is obviously a line to be walked in regard to these subject matters, and if Wyrd chooses not to address them yet, then we have to assume they have a reason for doing so.   Mistakes can be costly and embarrassing (Think trade federation "asian" aliens in Star Wars prequels).

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11th, sorry, I guess I misunderstood you.

On the idea of personal ideas about it, I think that's fine on a personal level, honestly not sure how I feel about it on the grander scale. I certainly have moments of "it would have been way more interesting if..." but IDK how that challenges anything.

Regarding assumptions, yeah, I did, but no, it wasn't based on it being the default, but that in the gaming community, there's pretty little representation of other groups so that, combined with what it sounded like your attitude was about it (as you clarified it wasn't) did make me think so.

 

Guy in suit, no, the game has tons of stories, there's no need for a model to have an "I'm a man who's attracted to men" ability or some nonsense, nor is it necessary to represent it on the model

However, again, there are actually examples of analogous rules- imagine if kirai had been a guy and the story/rules referencing his and francis' relationship and rules had been left effectively identical otherwise- getting into the hypothetical mode 11th was referencing, the "lost love" who has the rule "I will never leave you" if two guys would have been a pretty obvious statement. Just food for thought.

 

edit- "Reskinning" things isn't the answer, but it certainly can point things out. Just on the edge of cannon, the strongman performer reskin on the circus crew was a fairly ballsy move IMHO. While I find it a little counterintuitive for the strongman to not have a serious melee attack (esp. with the barbell), making a seductive male character was an interesting choice.

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First, I want to thank wyrd for once again opening a space for this discussion. And I am grateful that the malifaux community is IMO the most diverse and inclusive group of gamers I have encountered in the last twenty plus years as a tabletop gamer. 

I would say that the most common instances of sexism I have experienced in gaming would fall into the ignorant and mildly annoying category. Comments that assume I have a boyfriend who got me into gaming, that I must be a noob, stupid labels like unicorn. Then there are the more grossly inappropriate comments which include rape jokes or language, the use of misogynistic or homophobic epithets to mock other players, comments about my body or attire. This type of behavior shouldn't be condoned ever, regardless of whether or not someone from the maligned group is present. 

What is perhaps most hurtful though, for me at least, is the isolation that comes with often being the only woman in the room. It means never quite being inside the club, not getting invited to events, dealing with all the things I mentioned above while also having to constantly justify why it is upsetting. 

I've read a lot of comments on this subject the past few days. It hurts that I have seen friends say they wouldn't tolerate the sexist behavior, and I know this to be false. It makes me angry that some men seem to think that anything short of assault is no big deal. And as a member of the larger gaming community, I find it highly disconcerting that this is such a hot button issue in the first place.

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