Sunday, July 27, 2014

Crescent's Thoughts On: Anita Sarkeesian at GaymerX or How She Isn't Trying to Take Away Our Games, But Rather Chop Off Their Balls And Make Them Proud Of It.

"What About the Men? HA HA HA! They don't count."
Yo-ho. Not much have been going on with me, other than my temp job is about to expire and I haven't heard anything about whether or not I'm going to be hired on as a permanent employee or at the very least have my contract extended, and this Saturday is Testing for my Martial Arts School (which means I'm going to be very busy that weekend). Anyway, recently Anita "I don't play video games but I will tell you everything I think is wrong with them" Sarkeesian was on a panel at the GaymerX convention alone with two other women. The topic of discussion? Why it is so hard to be a woman on the internet that we constantly have to play the victim card to get guys to flock over and defend us. Or at least that's what I think the topic was, with Anita Sarkeesian nearly everything devolves into "Everything I don't like is sexist and if you disagree with me then you are a misogynist." However, to Anita's credit she at least acknowledges that there is criticism levied against her... Not the key word in that sentence is "acknowledges," not "address" or "refute" just "acknowledge." In a conversation "with pop culture" this is about the equivalent of only recognizing that there is someone standing across from you. She does NOTHING to counter the arguments that have been raised, and her attempts at refuting these criticism, I've notice, fall into one of two categories, Appeals to Ridicule and/or Strawman arguments. All culminating in the biggest Strawman representation of the opposing side, that we are afraid that they will "Take our video games away." This is going to be a long one.

Anita doesn't have an "Army of Feminists" but it is nearly 7 thousand strong.
As I said, nearly all of Anita's "rebuttals" to the criticism levied against her falls into one of two logical fallacies: The Appeal to Ridicule and the Strawman Argument. An Appeal to Ridicule happens when instead of addressing the argument, the person instead rephrases said argument (often times in the process misrepresenting it by either over simplifying the argument or altering key elements of the argument) and presents the altered argument in a mocking way and then dismisses said argument by pretty much saying "Now that's just silly." An example of a Appeal to Ridicule would be to say that Atomic Theory is crap because it says that solid objects are mostly empty space, thus people should be able to walk through walls, now that's just silly. This argument ignores major aspects of Atomic Theory thus misrepresenting it in the process, and then at the end dismisses it, not with a counter argument but rather by just saying it's silly, as if something that is silly can't possibly be true. Anita does this during the panel when she "addresses" the criticism that she orchestrated her own backlash to fund her Kickstarter.

The way Anita phrases the criticism is that she not only was willing to receive all the emotional abuse that such a backlash would create, but that she also has "an army of Feminists" to spam 4chan, so that her Kickstarter would be successful. Now her argument is that it's silly to think that she has the resources to do this, and that she wanted to be emotionally abused by said backlash. However, to spam a website doesn't require an army of anyone, all it requires is one person over the course of said a weekend. Just copy and paste the same message a half dozen times and then screencap the most suitable responses for your goals. As for the emotional abuse, if you orchestrated it yourself, it can't be abuse, in that case it's just use. You used the emotions of not only the individuals participating in the backlash, but also your audience who doesn't want to be associated with this kind of negative group.

Besides, this argument is built on circumstantial evidence, you have a history of moderating or disabling comments, you KNOW of 4chan and their opinions about you (source), yet for your Kickstarter you not only left the comments completely open, but there was also a wave of spamming in your name TO your Kickstarter video, where those who "disagree" with you are opening to "disagree," you then paraded around a composite image of all the "negative" comments you received from "gamers" (most of which never identified themselves as gamers) to garner support for your project, and the result was that you got your project funded to the tune of ~$160,000. Just saying that, that's just silly, will not make this criticism go away.

Now before I move on to the BIG issue, let me clarify that there is a difference between the logical fallacy of the Appeal to Ridicule and the logically valid counter argument Reductio ad Absurdum (Reduce to the Absurd). Appeal to Ridicule relies solely on misrepresenting the argument in question to make it appear silly and then dismisses it on the grounds that it sounds silly. On the other hand, Reductio ad Absurdum takes the argument in it's true form, and then either takes said argument to it's most logical extreme or apply it to something else, and uses that argument to reach an absurd conclusion, thus exposing the logical flaws in the argument's form. This is the core of Satire, and as we've seen in Anita's third Damsels in Distress video, she knows nothing about it.

The gamers that Anita is talking about.
The other Logical Fallacy Ms. Sarkeesian keeps bringing up is a closely related fallacy to the Appeal to Ridicule, which is call a Strawman argument. Basically, it happens when the person, constructing their counter argument, portrays the original argument in a overly simplified, misrepresented, or just plain incorrect form and then proceeds to dismantle this inaccurate argument rather than the actual argument. The name comes from the concept that the person who is argument is constructing a "Strawman" of the person they are addressing and then knocking that down. An example of a Strawman Argument is when debating evolution, a creationist says that "Evolution says that we came from a rock, so let me show you how this is wrong."

How does Anita employ such an obviously fallacy? Well, when she says that her detractors are worried about having our "Games Taken away by Feminists." You know, with the visualization of that screeching red-hair banshee of a feminist kicking down our doors and taking away our 3DS's and the Play Station Vitas of the 2 people who own them. Taking and throwing games like Dead or Alive and Dragon's Crown into a bonfire and lighting a match. Though I can only speak for myself, but I'm pretty sure none of us are afraid that games will be ripped from our hands and we will never be able to play them ever again. No no no no, it's far more dire than that, what I, and many like me, are afraid of with this brute force of feminism invading our hobby is that we will see a lack of creative freedom due to the enforcement of implicit or explicit guidelines about what is acceptable in a video game. What female characters are allowed or not allowed, what plot elements are permissible and to whom, and how characters are suppose to be portrayed. And before you think this fear is unfounded, let me briefly (too late) divert you the game I reviewed last week: Senran Kagura Burst.

The PAL Boxart... I can't see anything anyone could possibly find wrong with this cover.
As I said in my review last week, Senran Kagura Burst is a really good beat-em-up with an okay story and LOTS of Fanservice. And while the game was only released Digitally in the US, it did receive a physical release in European, which promoted one blogger to post a blog on the Official Nintendo Magazine with the hyperbolic title of: "Senran Kagura Burst is Damaging the Industry- here's how to stop it" (source). Prior to the release of the game and apparently armed only with the European box art (the Japanese box art was, oddly enough, less provocative) and perhaps a few screenshots and gameplay trailers, the author of the article, Chris Rooke, deemed the game to be the bane of the entire industry. Why? Because it has a cast of implausibly attractive girls (which is a, with jiggle physics, who serves as fanservice to a male audience through their ability to strip to their "underwear" (Technically they are all swimsuits) in order to "perform their special attack" (Ninja Arts don't require the girls to strip, the clothes destruction system is completely different from their Ninja Arts system) and this alienates the "45% of girl gamers" (that statistic has been criticized as being too broad in it's definition of what a "Gamer" is) because it "objectifies" the girls in the game ("You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means."). Yeah, reading this blog after having played the game is hilarious with how utterly inaccurate it, but the most troubling part about this is at the end, when Chris Rooke tells the reader to do themselves a favor and "don't read articles about its release. Try not to Youtube it. Avoid reviews. And certainly don't buy it"

Think about that for a second, Don't read about it, Don't watch anything about it, Don't read reviews of it, and don't buy it. So we can't check out the game in any way to form our opinions about it, or even to check whether or not you were accurately representing the game and it's content (which you weren't), and we are just suppose to take your word for it and that this small niche game designed to primarily appeal to a certain, predominately male, demographic is going to destroy our industry because you think it is offensive to women? You know if we changed "offensive to women" to "Promotes school bullying" this entire argument would be the same as Jack Thompson's argument against the game "Bully," and just like with Bully the entire gaming community came down on Mr. Rooke for this blog. The best part is the number of female gamers who played and enjoyed Senran Kagura, getting ticked that this guy was claiming to know what they find offensive.
A strong, confident, female cast or some guy's perverted fantasy. Why does it have to be one or the other?
What does this have to do with Anita Sarkeesian? Well everything. What Chris Rooke did with his article on Senran Kagura is identical to what Anita Sarkeesian does with nearly every video on video games she puts out. She misrepresents the games, says that they are damaging to women without qualifying why, she pretends to speak for the sensibilities of all women when there are many females, and even feminists, who disagree with her, and she implicitly advocates for the abolishment of certain games and female representations. If she is even aware of Senran Kagura, I am sure that she will immediately put that as an example in her "Fighting Fuck Toys" video when she FINALLY comes around to it and will likely spout out the exact same things Chirs Rooke said. The only difference between her, Chris Rooke, and even Jack Thompson is that the game industry (or at least certain companies within the industry) is actually listening to her. She won the "Ambassador Award" for heaven's sake, and the gaming press is looking for every single opportunity to put her on an even higher marble pillar so that she can reign judgment down on us poor sexist sinners. If a company like Tamsoft was to ever be swayed by the whims of Sarkeesian, and have her as a "consultant" for Senran Kagura, then that is the end of that series. Asuka, Ikaruga, Katsuragi, Yagyuu, Hibari and all the other girls of the series will now have to have no bigger than B cups, all dress options will have to be practical blouses and slacks, no shrine maidens or gothic lolitas here, and Haruka will have to be dropped completely because you can't be sexy and powerful, that's just sexual objectification. Some might think this is a good thing, but the greater problem is what happens to creative freedom at that point? I mean, why did Tamsoft create a game series like Senran Kagura? Well the game's designer Kenichiro Takaki was thinking about what he wanted to see in a 3DS game and his answer was immediately "Boobs" (source), but if Takaki was stopped from making his game about boobs then we would never have Senran Kagura, and while some, like Mr. Rooke, might think the world will be a better place if such a game never existed, there are still so many who not only play the games, but love the characters, the world and the lore. Those people, men and a few women, played and enjoy the games, the anime, the manga, what have you. Maybe it is because of the Boobs, or maybe it is something else, but you can't hamper on creative freedom unless you don't care about the variety and depths of worlds possible. And if you don't like one particular game for whatever reason, like you don't like Senran Kagura because it is heavy with it's fanservice, then the better solution is to just not play it, and if someone else likes it don't be bothered by it. That way game developers are free to create what they want to create and gamers are free to play what they want to play.

The problem is this doesn't seem like what Anita wants, it appears she wants the entire industry to cater to her particular tastes in games and particularly female characters. She isn't trying to take away our video games, that is true. But what she is trying to do is keep video games chained to a set of ideals that nobody except Anita wants. And if that happens the first thing to go is creative freedom, and with it games like Senran Kagura. Games who's only crime is they are a bit too sexy for feminists.

Sorry for the amazingly long winded post. Review next week, I promise. Until then

-Crescent, P.S. This man is a perverted God.

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