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Too Close to Home: Selling Sex with Video Games

February 11, 2012

This past month or so has been a weird one. I consider myself to be a reasonably thoughtful person, often engaging in quiet introspection and philosophy on various issues. The thing is, though, that I usually think about stuff in rather abstract terms. I ponder tendencies, ideas and processes in broad terms, usually only being concrete when it comes to issues relating to my area of expertise which, no surprise, is video games.

The reason I say that the last month has been weird is because I’ve been thinking a whole lot about a very specific issue. That issue is gender, and gender roles in society at large. It’s in no way unrelated to my favourite topic; the reason I even started down this path of thinking was because of a blog post that a games-journalist friend of mine wrote about a month back. The post was about so-called “booth babes”; pretty girls selling various gaming-related products to nerds by leveraging their prettiness in various sexual, skimpily-dressed ways. The main focus of the text itself as well as of the predictably heated discussion that followed was the phenomenon known as “objectification”; reducing something to an object.

The flame war in the comments field, on Twitter and elsewhere went as expected. There were the usual twists and turns, the allegations of everything from people being hypocrites and/or Nazis and/or whatever. Words like “mansplaining” arrived when and where they were expected to, and the whole thing looked pretty banal and glum for the longest time. Even though the original article was meant to illustrate the author’s nuanced and tempered approach to the concept of objectifying people, nuance and temperance was all but lost from the resulting debate, and it looked like we would once again not learn a goddamned thing. That’s to be expected when emotions run high, I suppose, but being both a stoic and an optimist, I hoped for the longest time that people would come to their senses. No such luck, sadly.

I eventually decided to jump into the fray. And though I’ll probably come across as a bit arrogant and pretentious for saying this, I’m proud to claim that my contribution to this whole debate seems to have gotten people thinking a little bit. It even seems to have ended the discussion, which I’m not really sure how to interpret. Maybe I managed to stump the combatants through sheer force of rhetoric; maybe everyone was just tired of not really making any headway. Either way, my participation started with a bit of thinking on my behalf – which I dare say is more than a lot of people did before starting to mash their keyboards. While verbal bullets were flying overhead, I was in my own trench, mostly keeping my head down, contemplating the meaning of the word “objectifying”. This word was one that the hard core, self-proclaimed feminist side of the argument seemed desperate to use at every turn. What got me really thinking about the semantics of it was that a girl I know wrote a post in one of the blog posts that had been written in response to the original one by my journalist friend. This girl was claiming her right to objectify herself voluntarily as an expression of sexual power (or something clever like that – I’m not that smart really). Another girl then entered that thread and made it clear to this first girl that she couldn’t do that. It wasn’t possible to objectify herself, that was only something a third (male – duh) party could do to her. She could “sexualize” herself, however, that was completely fine. And right around here I realized that the semantics needed exploring, because I no longer had any idea what was going on.

As it turns out, there really isn’t any difference between the meaning of “sexualisation” and “objectification” – or rather, not the difference that was claimed in the comments thread in question. “Sexualisation” is merely another word for the longer, more descriptive term “sexual objectification”. Learning this was very important to me, and to my later contribution to the debate, because it meant that the proto-term “objectification” was more general, stood above the more specific “sexualisation”, could indeed be done to oneself, and most importantly could also be applied to men.

Suddenly, everything fell into place. The strategy of the feminist side of this discussion, for reasons I’d rather not think too much about, was suddenly made clear. They were looking to hijack the term “objectifying”, which allowed them to wallow in a solitary state of victimhood, and in turn reduce the men to something less than themselves (thus objectifying them – us – tragicomically). Because if objectifying is hijacked, and in everyday parlance made to mean only “sexual objectification”, then it follows that men can never be victims on the same terms as women. Whenever the objectifying of men is discussed, it is at best acknowledged with a token nod, but because it is always viewed through this prism of sexual objectification as the only real method of reducing someone to something less than human, men will never be considered equal victims of this disgusting practice.

As I started to contribute to the discussion, I explained the above tendency to my fellow combatants in the on-going internet flame war. I proceeded to reclaim the word objectifying and showed how it is indeed done to men as well – not so much in the sexual sense, but more in the power trip sense. Men are supposed to be breadwinners, successful, alpha, rough and often even violent. And they must have loads and loads of things; cars, nice homes, nice clothes, watches and other accessories. And seeing as women are indeed also objectified, reduced to “things”, I thought that acknowledging these tendencies was just as important from a women’s perspective – because that’s what makes up the other half of the “rape culture” equation. Consent is optional. A real man doesn’t ask, after all. He takes.

You can’t see his face. But you know that he’s a man’s man.

These gender roles are forced upon us, and we help in perpetrating them by buying in. Whether we’re women or men, we have plenty to lose from standing outside this bizarre rat race, because we may lose out in absolutely every sense of the word. Talk about losing one’s soul is very hollow-sounding when keeping it might mean dying poor, lonely and utterly rejected. And so we hop in with both feet, trying our hardest to be the absolute best pieces of meat we possibly can, lest we lose out on our chance to be happy. And at the centre of this charade is the same cynical consumption culture that hounds us in pretty much every other part of our lives. Whether you are trying to be a man’s man or a darling little princess, what’s important is that you gather as much money as you possibly can and then consume as much as possible – whether you do this by working a job you hate or by getting plastic surgery and marrying the biggest walking wallet that the sex object you’ve become can manage to snare. And in the end, none of us see each other, or even ourselves, as anything more than objects. In this context, where I’m told to not see myself as good enough, or to see anyone else as anything other than a means to my ends, does it really come as a surprise to anyone that barbaric practices such as rape are still commonplace? Or that women will shun men that would love them unconditionally to marry a violent drunk with a Bentley? Or that nobody is happy?

And the biggest victory of this crude, emergent consumption culture is that nobody is attacking it properly. Also, men are at a bit of a disadvantage here, in part because the feminists’ attempts at claiming all the victimhood for themselves have been so successful. Men are now told since birth that they are keeping women down, and that there aren’t “man-issues” of this nature, which serves to give the whole thing an air of legitimacy, and makes us less likely to question it. Because of this, and general meta-cognitive inability and various other stupidities, we go at each other instead of the real culprits; we’re complaining that it’s all about the patriarchy or some other aspect of human society – even though these are all secondary to the real problem. It’s like a global version of the LA riots, or the moronic English chavs who looted and vandalized properties belonging to working-class business owners thinking they were in fact sticking it to the man. Telling in the latter case was that what was generally stolen, and often used rather than resold, was not groceries, but the very luxury items we’ve all been conditioned to associate with being all we can – must – be.

I felt really good as I was expressing these thoughts, and what feedback I got was generally positive. It seemed like I’d managed to think outside the box and get people to take a step back. Maybe this would help further the discussion on this and other topics in the future. As for myself, I felt happy that I managed to approach this in a cool, calm and collected way. I felt proud that I didn’t let emotions get to me, and make me react in a knee-jerky way. Even though there’s plenty of stuff out there that gets my blood up, potentially impairing my ability to think rationally and find solutions, I felt that maybe, just maybe, I at least had this whole sexualisation thing figured out.

Then I saw this fucking woman:

Jessica Nigri as “Pikachu”

And within seconds I was frothing at the mouth. I have never been quite so enraged by seeing a woman sexualised. I even wrote quite the mean post on her Facebook wall because of it, essentially saying that I would have much preferred if she would have tried competing on the same terms as every other pretty girl with big boobs, by submitting pictures to Playboy or whatever. I was even so mean as to imply that she wouldn’t hold a candle to any of the “normally” pretty girls; that the only reason anyone even noticed her was that she was dressing in computer-game related clothes (a phenomenon known as “cosplaying”).

The reason I was so pissed off was because the cosplaying was just a means to an end for her. This girl claimed to be a gamer, a geek or whatever, but it all came across as incredibly cynical when I saw the above picture. Because from a cosplaying point of view it absolutely sucks. What’s that outfit got to do with Pokémon in general and Pikachu in particular? I mean, there are plenty of sexualised female video game characters that she’s posed as, and that she could settle for impersonating.  The fact that she would make a Pikachu costume that looked like that made me angry, and also made me realize something about myself.

I’m perfectly fine with so called booth babes as an expression of the insane consumption-focused culture we live in. It’s not that much worse than anything else, and again, it’s a symptom rather than a problem in itself. Another thing I kind of feel makes it more acceptable is the very fact that booth babes are just models hired by companies that want to sell product. They more often than not have no relationship to the very geek culture they are targeting and exploiting. What pisses me off royally about Jessica Nigri isn’t that she is selling games by being sexy; she is using games to sell her sexiness! Her self-sexualizing, drone-like behaviour is made all the more disgusting and cynical because she’s devised a strategy for pulling it off that lowers the whole thing another notch. She is disrespectful towards herself, towards her so-called fans and towards the culture that I so love and am invested in. This is a good-looking woman who carves out a niche for herself by objectifying her target audience even more than other such women with modelling dreams would – because she is her own agent and marketer; this is all her own idea. She realizes she wouldn’t be noticed otherwise, that her qualities as an object would be inadequate in any other context. And so she makes a costume that is only nominally similar to Pikachu, and proceeds to sell her body to a bunch of horny idiot teens that totally miss what is going on. The same teens will write about their masturbating in the comments threads of Jessica’s pictures. Meanwhile, my challenge to her was edited off her wall.

Obviously, I have emotion about this and it affects me. As the title of the post says, it’s all too close to home for my tastes. I mean, Jessica does indeed have some really good costumes that she’s done. Most of them are sexed-up more than necessary, but at least the Gears of War one is pretty authentic and pretty cool. So for all my indignation, I will concede that I’m probably only part-right on this one. Still, even though my biases are undeniable, I really would have preferred to not have to be the only one mentioning this. Because there are some really good cosplayers out there, decidedly better than Jessica in fact, who don’t get half as much attention as her and for all the wrong reasons. I guess on some level I’m just disappointed that gamers, my target audience, my… “kin”… would be so horribly, horribly blind to the very same bullshit that society at large is.

I had hoped we’d be better than that.

  1. The Maestro permalink

    Wow! This is a great and thought-provoking post. I used to go to anime cons back in college and hated that the fully perfected costume was overlooked because of the nearest scantly clad lady (who nearly has to tell people who’s she’s dressed as) took the attention. I recalled that moment when you mentioned Pikachu because I thought she was dressed as a bee in the picture. But I used to cosplay I would tell me my friends, “you don’t cosplay for the attention, you cosplay just for You.”

    However, it seems she combined the two thoughts and found a niche. I see what you mean about her using looks to attract attention but whenever I see it I get more upset at the people who gawk and stare. But honestly, it’s not just the guys but girls gawk and stare with them. They have to understand they look like brain dead zombies and that they are the ones putting her on a pedestal.

    Now, I’m a guy and I’m not saying “all dudes, anime fans or gamers are zombies”. She’s running a campaign and they are voting for it.

  2. What I wonder is this:

    While I can’t stand Jessica Nigri if what I read about her is true (that she’s not interested in the media she’s a cosplayer for at all, and simply uses it as a means to access an audience other models might not tap into), I wonder if she’s actually onto something.

    See, what has me at a conundrum as a geek (and nerd–I do data programming for experience/hopefully for a living soon) is that A) cosplaying is a bit of a skill of its own on top of posing for a camera B) the women in our video games, comic books, anime, and so forth look a not insignificant amount better than most other women in reality do.

    I wonder if there’s actually something to be said about going professional/making money with cosplay for models who are closet geeks, especially if they happen to at least like the character they portray, if not the franchise that the character is from.

    For instance, there’s a redhead glamour model I’ve become a fan of for a single shining reason: she looks *exactly* like Phoenix from MvC3 (or Poison Ivy, depending on your interpretation). 5’8, 34D, long red hair, the works. But since cosplaying pays next to nothing, she has yet to suit up as Phoenix (or Sarah Kerrigan). And how I so wish she would >=[.

  3. Hey Odious, I read your article and, while I don’t usually comment on these kinds of things, I really felt the need. I’m going to respectfully disagree with your opinion on this topic, and I’d be curious if you had any additional thoughts.

    I agree with your assessment that men are also objectified in culture, along with women, but I think the biggest contradiction to that is actually geek culture, itself. Geeks, whether gamers, technophiles or cosplayers, are generally allowed to be true to themselves without adhering to larger society definitions of “masculinity.”

    Sure, the gender roles are still out there, but I think it’s hard to deny that geek culture is expanding, making alternate forms of role models more viable. Shows like “Chuck” offer a geek as their central character, doing a lot to promote role models that aren’t “men’s men.” The “Transformers” franchise stars Shia LaBeouf, pretty much as far away from that traditional male stereotype as you can get. The film “The Social Network” is basically about how this scrawny, kicked around nerd took a couple of Ivy League jocks to task. Hell, even Sherlock Holmes, Peter Parker, the heroes in “The Watchmen,” The Hulk, and Iron Man are all pretty good examples of differing role models from the typical “man’s man.” Geek culture is every day becoming more mainstream, and the only people who don’t really benefit from that are, ironically, women.

    When you look at “Chuck,” for example, it’s hard to deny that Sarah Walker (played by Yvonne Strahovski) is primarily there to entertain and engorge the male audience. I can’t count the number of episodes that involve Sarah getting stripped down to her underwear for some “plot point.” I don’t think I even have to mention what Megan Fox does to cripple strong female characters. In fact, pretty much all of the strong male characters I described above are accompanied, by vapid, attractive women. In a rough glance at the rising geek culture, it could be argued that women have even less of a place than they do in conventional mainstream entertainment.

    When women DO appear as “strong” characters in movies and TV, they all-too-often end up being shallow impersonations of the “man’s man” stereotype, rather than themselves being compelling characters. In the “Resident Evil” movie franchise, for example, it’s hard to say that Alice is as strong a character as, say Sigourney Weaver playing Ripley in Aliens, even if she does “kick more butt,” as it were. Really, women don’t have much to turn to in popular entertainment, and video games are even worse.

    Which brings me around to your post. I’m a geek as well, and I’m guilty of enjoying the same consumerist schlock that the rest of us do. But I think it’s somewhat interesting that you condemn Jessica Negri more than you do the concept of “booth babes.” Of your own admission, booth babes are purely there to sell you a product. Honestly, the fact that you are okay with booth babes is a bit of an admission to how broken gamer culture really is. We just blanketly accept that games are marketed to horny males, that they objectify (or sexualize, or sexually objectify) women to sell products and that this is an ingrained part of our culture. Honestly, the fact that you suggest Negri should just don one of the more “accurate” sexy game girl outfits is a pretty telling statement regarding the problem. We want women to be objectified by US, by our medium, and we don’t really like it when they get the upper hand.

    While she likely didn’t intend this, I feel that Jessica Negri’s Pickachu outfit is a brilliant mockery of gamer culture, both because it is completely inaccurate to the cosplay and because it was so readily received by gamers. You mention, with rage, that she “proceeds to sell her body to a bunch of horny idiot teens that totally miss what is going on.” You’re right, they ARE missing what’s going on; they’re being mocked. They’re being mocked for their inability to look at women in a fair context. Cosplay is being mocked for its happy and frequent portrayal of normal women as sexual objects. Geeks are being mocked for not sharing their “empowerment” with women.

    Honestly, Jessica Negri should be commended for her unintentional role as a satirist. Now if we could just figure out how to fix our medium, we’d be set.

    • Geeks, whether gamers, technophiles or cosplayers, are generally allowed to be true to themselves without adhering to larger society definitions of “masculinity.”

      Well – I’m not really sure it’s so much that we’re allowed to be ourselves; it’s that we’ve claimed this niche. My thesis is that all this stuff is an extension of capitalism to a great extent, and an easy way of making money is to leverage people’s insecurities and create an ideal that they have to buy loads of stuff in order to attain. Now, the geek culture – the IRL extension of our fictional worlds – can’t really be co-opted and turned into something it’s not, at least not easily. But they would if they could. Look at the games themselves. The less more mainstream they become, the more stereotype-jock-macho the main characters get. Games are becoming increasingly Hollywood-ized, with every part of the man-as-an-object junk that goes with that. The main characters are, almost without exception, male power fantasies. Women are sexualised to high heaven.

      It’s a good thing that we’ve started from such humble, nerdy beginnings, because there are parts of the games industry that will remain “ours” in some sense (though much of cosplaying these days focuses on increasingly niche games – I mean, who cosplays as a COD character?). That said, nerds aren’t exactly free from these tendencies to objectify each other, even if the rest of pop culture would be kept at bay. Just look at how we treat each other:

      In a rough glance at the rising geek culture, it could be argued that women have even less of a place than they do in conventional mainstream entertainment.

      Yup, no joke. It may be the case that geek culture is growing and that pandering to that audience means making male leads less macho-stereotypical (though I’ll still claim that this image is far, far from being the norm – and may never be). But as I say, it’s an extension of capitalism, and all men – nerds or otherwise – will open their wallets for women, in some sense or other. At the very least, they’ll want to watch the show.

      If you look at it through this lens, it all makes sense. Even it’s not about desperate jocks or wannabe-tough-guys, but rather about guys who make no effort to fit in – they still do like them ladies. There’s money to be made from that narrative too, I would wager.

      Really, women don’t have much to turn to in popular entertainment, and video games are even worse.

      I saw this lecture once that inspired me a whole lot. A woman who’d researched females and their entertainment habits found that in Japan, where male/female roles are still really old-school, the most popular erotica for women is gay pretty-boy erotica. Why? Not because there’s something intrinsically hot about gay love, but because it was the only expression within their country’s pop culture of equal love. Food for thought, no?

      We want women to be objectified by US, by our medium, and we don’t really like it when they get the upper hand.

      Well, that’s not a statement that I can exactly disprove by denying it. But I do think a bit of clarification might be in order regardless. The reason Jessica angers me is because of the dishonesty of what she’s doing. She is, literally, selling sex with video games. The pretence is that she’s a nerd and wants to be judged by the quality and authenticity of the cosplays, but then she uses almost every chance she gets to show as much skin as possible.

      I don’t really like the objectifying of anybody. But for me, the whole “make money from your liking my hot body” feels more honest and less offensive than “pretend that I’m not really out to make money from your liking my hot body as I’m a nerd just like you – now check out my hot ass”.

      Honestly, Jessica Negri should be commended for her unintentional role as a satirist.

      Yeah. But let’s not forget, it’s also self-mocking, as she’s unintentionally complicit, as well as being satirical.

      Thanks a bunch for your post. Eye-opening, to say the least.

      • Thanks for the thoughtful response. I looked up Jessica Negri after reading your post, since I honestly wasn’t that familiar with her. One of her cosplay outfits really summed up how I feel about this whole thing, Juliet Starling from Lollipop Chainsaw: Her version of the costume is actually extremely accurate, and that’s what I think is so embarrassing. Lollipop Chainsaw is almost a textbook example of what’s wrong with the mainstream game industry, and the fact that it’s intended to be humorous/satirical doesn’t really make it any better. It’s still being marketed to horny, violence loving males.

        I really hope that games can eventually get past these types of portrayals, but seeing that Lollipop Chainsaw isn’t even out yet doesn’t help me think it’s going to happen anytime soon. I think that’s a more systemic issue, and one that I spend more time worrying about, than whether Jessica Negri is profiting off of it.

      • I acknowledge that my biases probably play a big role in how I feel about all of this. In fact, I acknowledge it in the title of the post.

        You’ve probably got your priorities more correctly set up than I have. I just felt like telling a far less popular story, but that needed to be told. Like the one of male sex crime victims, or white slaves.

        No human being is an object, and all need to be recognized, I think.

  4. Great article and I certainly have felt similar emotions about “gamers” and “gamer culture.” The fandom backlash over the Mass Effect 3 made me want to barf. I went to school for screenwriting and film production and the idea that a customer could object to an artisitc creation on the basis of personal preference and demand a refund/free rewrite is beyond all gall. The fact that bioware caved in makes it even worse.

    Ultimately I think if you idenfity with a group you also identify that group with yourself and your traits. From reading some of your blog posts today your obviously a thought driven, reasoned person, but that in no way informs the rest of the ad-hoc group that is gamers. Over the course of the past year I really came to understand this myself as comment wars about call of duty, mass effect 3, and a myriad of other gaming news and events really left me feeling burned out. Now I just think of myself as someone who plays and really enjoys games, but in no way a “gamer” despite proudly wearing such a title for the first half of my life.

    • It’s… kind of sad, isn’t it? To grow up and realize that the stereotype image of the average idiot gamer is closer to the truth than one’d like to believe, and that one cannot continue identifying oneself as a gamer because of it.

      I feel that way too more often than not.

      I _am_ a geek though. *fist in the air*

      • Haha, yes I still identify as a geek very strongly myself. There’s way less of a disillusionment with that title and its so broad that there’d have to be a conspiracy (hopefully).

        At this point I see gamers as the very embodiment of entitlement and I only have vague theories of why it came to be this way. There’s a lot of actual children with the demographic but theres plenty of people like me who are in their mid-twenties and beyond that, if it was simple age immaturity, should moderate that.

      • Oh, no joke, gamers on average grow up very, very slowly. I think it’s one of the reasons why the democratization via Kickstarter etc. is so slow-going and people actually troll and flame me for suggesting they be more sceptical; they really don’t want to lift a finger or learn something new. They want the world to cater to their desires, just like their favourite games or something. Which also means they play pretty shitty games, but I digress.

        Maybe it’s society at large, and we’re just seeing the gamer-side of it because we’re focused on them. I mean… I’m not sure any gamers were among the rioters in London last summer… so maybe there’s degrees to these feelings of entitlement.

        I don’t know to what extent it differs between countries, but I hear that in the states there’s this… self-esteem hysteria where everyone gets to feel special all the time, thus causing inflation.

        Sheesh. I’m too tired for these deep thoughts, I think. ^^

      • Alex permalink

        Let’s not jump to conclusions about gamers based on forums and comments. 🙂 I find that forums and comments can bring out the worst in people, and we may get the wrong impression from their written words. I had a guild-mate in WoW who I disliked until I actually met him and realized that he was a really nice, friendly guy, and my assumptions caused me to see things in his posts that weren’t actually there..

        There are a lot of mature, adult gamers out there, but you won’t see many on the forums and comments. Most of us are busy with jobs and families, and barely have time to play games, let alone post about them. The only times I’m ever on forums or blogs is when I take an internet break at work (healthier than a cigarette break). Those in school, or without jobs, have a lot more time to post, complain, etc, and thus you tend to see the less mature side of gamers reflected more often in posts.

      • I suppose that’s true. I for one come across as more than a little dickish in writing. 🙂

      • Oh we are definitely reaping the “your special, everyone is special” concept at this point in time. There’s a lot of people I knew from college who, upon graduating and not getting a nice salary job just went home to live with their parents vs. what I did which was get a crappy minimum wage job at a bar and live on my own, barely, while paying student loans (all of which is how it should be. I took at said loans, and I am an adult and should be responsible for my own well being).

        Politics wise people on the left in America tends towards community/gov’t intervention in their wellbeing vs individualism on the right. I’ll not get into that and spark a flame war though.

      • Politics wise people on the left in America tends towards community/gov’t intervention in their wellbeing vs individualism on the right. I’ll not get into that and spark a flame war though.

        Good, I appreciate that, ’cause if you started down that path I’d probably tag along, and then we’d have a right-ol’ mess on our hands I’d wager. I seem to manage to make a big enough part of the internets mad at me by not unquestioningly donating the same causes as them. Imagine what they’d do to me if I moved away from games. Sheesh.

    • Alex permalink

      Joshua, I feel your critique of gamers misses the mark. The complaint about Mass Effect 3 (as I understand it) was that the ending was abrupt and unfinished. It wasn’t a complaint with the studio’s artistic vision, but rather that the studio just said “the end” without a conclusion (possibly to leave room for paid DLC). I don’t think games or gamers are unique in this, as similar hostility can be found directed towards the endings of movies and shows.

      And I wouldn’t hang up the title of “gamer” so quickly, as the comment wars you see represent just a small vocal subset of gamers. I’ve been to three gamer cons at PAX East, and all the people I came across were nice and friendly, and I never once heard an argument or debate of “x is better than y” or “z sucks”. I’d rather you wear the “gamer” title proudly, and thus show by your example that gamers are not the raving lunatics of comment wars.

      What was more interesting, and relevant, about Mass Effect 3 was the female Shepard marketing and resultant uproar. Bioware let fans vote on 5 mock-ups of what the “official” female Shepard would look like, and the blond haired blue eyed Shepard won. This angered many who dismissed the contest as a beauty pageant that sexually objectified Shepard as a blond haired, blue eyed bimbo, and reinforced the stereotype that women need to be blond and blue eyed to be attractive. The “real” female Shepard needed to have dark hair, or red hair, or be Asian, or a midget, or anything other than blond and blue eyed. (One blogger summed it up well with “That’s the problem with democracy, people are always voting for the wrong thing.”)

      I found this sentiment particularly odd, ironic, and troubling (particularly coming from feminists), as these angry fans were themselves perpetuating the stereotype that attractive, blue eyed, blond women were just bimbos and sex objects, and certainly couldn’t be powerful military figures commanding respect and saving the world. No, we couldn’t have a traditionally beautiful woman in a powerful non-stereotypical role; such women are only fit to be cheerleaders.

      I don’t remember which I voted, but I could certainly understand picking the blond one as she had a hard, determined, fierce, angry, and powerful look to her (more so than any of the others). She had a look that said, “I will do what is needed, and you better not stand in my way.” But the complainers and so called “feminists” couldn’t look beyond the blond hair and blue eyes. So Bioware kept the fierce look of the blond Shepard, but changed her hair to red to shut them up.

      • I’ll seriously counter you on the me3 ending. KOTOR 2 had an abrupt ending where literally you had only a semblance of what was happening and you knew a budget had to run short somewhere. ME3 on the other hand did pretty much wrap things up even if it did have a fallout style extended montage where anything and everything was explained. That’s an aesthetic choice on the part of the developer and they were wrong to let fan reaction overturn their original idea. I know the message about DLC after the credit roll was in poor taste, but that’s not really central to the issue because and ending DLC wasn’t planned at all until after the outcry.

        I’m sure there are plenty of people like be or Odious who can keep it together but its not just on game news websites its when I play any multiplayer online. It really comes down to emotional/time investment vs. payout. Is it really worth it for me to try to change/improve gamer culture when honestly its barely important compared to politics, my friends lives, work stuff etc? Its not.

        I think people being upset over the blond hair was silly because people voted and people wanted that face at least (if not the whole thing). They had a second vote for hair color after the face vote which you might have missed and the voting then was in the majority for red hair. Arguing against popular tastes for a commercial project is a bot of soapboxing in my opinion. And after all is said and done its just the default femshep and her appearance in the ad campaign. Its not like the game has this whole character creator that lets you really customize appearance….

        I appreciate your points and its nice to talk about stuff.

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