Lagging Behind on the Leading Ladies: The Social Factors


Business Factors

Creative Factors


Gotta admit, I’ve been putting this one off for a while. Part of it’s the fact that, although I’ve been watching for a long time and done some work on the fringe, I don’t have the same type of background for discussing the social factors as I do the business and creative factors on female representation in video games. But most of it’s the fact that this part of the subject is particularly depressing, and I don’t like having to face it.

Here’s the deal; we, as humans, are just bad to each other. And we don’t even think about it. We’re a society that’s been built on social groups, and the belief that our social group is better than everyone else’s We’ve stepped into an era where surrounding us with people just like us is not important anymore, but we still hold to that old tribal thinking.

And every group does it. In the west, we often point the blame at the WASP men because that’s the easiest and the socially safest, but in countries where other races are in power, they do the exact same thing. Same in micro-cultures were women hold the power. It’s the unfortunate interaction of people’s habits of attempting to mentally understand something completely the moment it’s introduced and so filling in their concept of a person based on stereotypes of the most obvious features until further information is gained and of thinking of themselves and the people like them or in their groups as inherently superior to all others.

Us vs. Them. It’s one of the most addictive ways of thinking, yet one that leads to ugliness in life like few others. Us vs. Them is the enemy. And if we want to start treating each other well, we need to identify and eliminate it wherever it comes up, and whether it benefits our group or not.

But that is a large task. It starts with understanding, in small pieces. So, in pursuit of that understanding, let’s take a look at one facet among thousands of that comprise of this, and dig into some of the social challenges of having women as the main protagonist in video games.

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Lagging Behind on the Leading Ladies- Part 2: The Business Perspective


So. This series here. As I had mentioned, we’re going to be covering three different categories of factors that make it difficult to have a woman as your lead in a video game; business, creative, and social. Before we get to that, though, first I feel I need to do something I’m very, very, very good at. I need to talk about myself.

Specifically, I need you guys to know where I’m coming from in all this. I spend nearly all of my time being absolutely incredible, but for this one, I need to take it two steps back, and make myself credible to you all. I don’t like putting a lot of real life into this blog, except for a few isolated places, but here’s one where I feel it’s really important to know what my foundation is to contextualize your own take on the theorizing I’m about to do.

Basically, I’m not an expert on any of this. I do have enough of a professional background behind me to make what I consider to be some educated guesses, but I’ve never worked in the video games industry. So, you know, keep that in mind.

My degree’s in Business Administration. I’ve spent most of my career as a small business consultant. I’ve worked on the outskirts of the literary publishing, the fine art, and the film industries. I have and continue to periodically write or work on my graphic novel or do other creative stuff. So the above few sentences are where I get my standing on the business and creative spheres. I currently work as a case manager, which gives me a bit of a lead on the social aspects, but honestly, most of that is just going to be drawing from my years of experience watching people be assholes on the internet. Because really, that’s as much of an expert as pretty much anyone is on that side.

So there, that’s the short and quick of what I’ve got behind me pushing me towards these thoughts. You got it? Good.

One more thing I want to highlight on this little series here. The Shameful Narcissist hit it right on the head in the last post on the subject: This is a very complicated matter. The question of why we don’t see more woman-fronted video games is something that relates to the core of how we look at each other and treat each other as human beings. This is a complex matter. And we cannot apply a simple solution to it. People on both sides of the argument have been doing that as long as the argument has been there, and it hasn’t gotten anybody anywhere. That’s the big takeaway I want you to get. We cannot have a simple solution to a complex problem. There are so many factors involved in keeping men as the primary gender for video game protagonists and trying to address one single thing as the cause for it all is just wasted effort. If you want to see the type of change that leads to more female leads in games, we’ll need to start by understanding just how many branches there are in that rabbit hole.

Moreover, this is not about misogyny or any sort of acute sexism. This is not a man vs. woman thing. If there is anyone out there deliberately making choices to keep women out of games, nobody with any sort of sense is listening to them. Rather, this is more about implicit bias. This is about the assumptions society in general makes about gender and what that means. Every culture, large-scale or small, has their own set of assumptions and acts on them unconsciously in ways that trend towards whatever group is most strongly represented there. It’s not just whatever group men or whites or whatever group in power at the time does. Look at companies and industries dominated by women, or caste- or clan-based societies, and you’ll see the same thing. These unconscious biases are usually negative on both sides, which we won’t so much see here but will become more apparent when we get into the next two sectors we’re looking at. The longer that culture goes on, the more prominent those unconscious trends become, until slowly, shifts start to happen. We’re in the middle of a shift like that now, but it’s not happening quite the way a lot involved in that dumb culture war going on right now would like. We’re going to check out why.

Let’s start giving you the Business.

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