Sunday, September 27, 2015

CRES Thoughts On: "Women as Reward: DLC Mini-episode" or These Costumes are Sexist....... Again.

Women as Reward: Dumb Lying Cunt Edition.
Last week I took a break from ripping Anita Sarkeesian's poorly thought out arguments apart to review a video game (because that is half of what I do on this blog). But since Anita can't seem to keep her mouth shut, we where treated to another episode of Women as Reward, this time focusing on DLC. Now since this episode is rather short I'm going to try something different for my response. Instead of summarizing what Anita said and making my rebuttals, I'm going to use Anita's transcript to copy and paste her own words in which I will then take the piss out of them. Anita's words are going to be the ones in Italics. Without further ado, let's get this train wreck started.

Remember this?
This is a special DLC add-on for our episode examining the Women as Reward trope.
Wait, what? Do you even know what DLC means? Because this is just an additional episode. Shorter and more as a supplemental for the main episode, but I didn't pay or download this in order to enhance my experience of your original product.
We’ve coined the Women as Reward trope to describe a long-running pattern found in interactive media.
In other words, you made the trope up.
It occurs when women (or more often women’s bodies) are employed as rewards for player actions in video games. The trope frames female bodies as collectible, as tractable or as consumable, and positions women as status symbols designed to validate the masculinity of presumed straight male players.
And as we talked about last time, it pretty much boiled down to the fact that anytime a woman is in a game, she is a reward in some way.
As we discussed in our full episode, this trope manifests in a number of ways including earned Cinematics, Easter Eggs, Unlockable Costumes, Experience Points, Collectibles, and Achievements.
And with that what is left for these women? Pretty much ANYTHING we do with them is considered sexist in your eyes.
However, the Women as Reward trope can take another, slightly different form. Instead of rewarding players for actions taken within the game environments, this one offers women’s bodies to players as rewards for actions taken in the real world.
Namely for forking over real money for DLC or pre-orders that then grant gamers the opportunity to play with and ogle female characters in more sexualized outfits or situations.
Wait, how is this different from when you talked about Alternate Costumes in your last video? "Because they are paid DLC," what ACTUAL difference does that make? In "Women as Reward" you talked exclusively about how these outfits are sexualized or impractical for combat, you never went into the process of unlocking them. What difference does it make if the outfit is unlocked via gameplay or via cash? Your own argument doesn't account for that.
DLC is short for downloadable content and can refer to a wide range of additional features or extensions to a preexisting game which can be purchased and downloaded digitally.
So you DO know what DLC means, so why did you use the term incorrectly at the start of the video. It doesn't make you sound clever or like a gamer, it just makes you sound stupid.
While DLC can include everything from extra maps to new levels, from more missions to better gear, for the purposes of this trope I’m focusing on costume packs that offer sexualized variants of female game characters for an extra fee.

Again, HOW IS THIS DIFFERENT FROM COSTUMES UNLOCKED THROUGH GAMEPLAY!? Also, you said that DLC can be for a wide variety of additional content, so why is having new costumes such a bad thing? Oh wait, SEXY costumes are inherently SEXIST! I forgot.

The Bane of the Gaming Industry: Swimsuits.

Final Fantasy 13-2 offered a revealing “beachwear costume” for the game’s protagonist, but unlike the alternative outfits I discussed in the main video this one is not unlockable via gameplay, instead it could be unlocked for 2 dollars and 99 cents. This is only one example but sexualized DLC outfits have become standard practice in some gaming genres.
AGAIN! HOW IS BEING PAID DLC DIFFERENT FROM BEING UNLOCKABLE!? Now I can understand if you where talking about the prevalence of paid DLC to unlock content that should already be in the game (like Capcom's moronic business strategy that hurt them more than helped), but that's NOT your argument. Your argument is that these costumes demean women and reduce them to mere eye-candy. So again, why is it being paid DLC so different? Why does the price tag of $2.99 matter? I mean, seriously, if people want these costumes they have to pay for it, if they don't then THEY DON'T PAY! It's as simple as that. So what IS the issue?
In our full video on this trope we highlighted some of the ways mainstream pornography has been seeping into video games as a reward for player actions.
The third installment in the Saints Row series pushed this pornification trend even further by partnering with Penthouse magazine.
PORNIFICATION!? Are you FREAKIN' kidding me Anita!?
When purchased, the resulting DLC offered gamers the chance to add digital versions of real-life “Penthouse Pets” to the player’s gang. Promotional materials read “For the first time in your life, when you call Penthouse Pets, they’ll actually answer.”
Okay, I think I get where this is coming from. Anita talked about how some games made deals with companies like Playboy to use their images in M RATED GAMES! However, how Anita makes it sound is that suddenly all of my Super Mario games suddenly have pornographic images subtly placed into my games. This is called CROSS PROMOTION! Saint's Row is promoting Penthouse, and Penthouse is promoting Saint's Row. Are you really having a problem with a company known for producing Mature content making a business deal with another company known for producing Mature content? Also, Saint's Row. Saint's Row started off as a goofy silly version of Grand Theft Auto and just kept GOING!
Pre-order bonuses are extras awarded to gamers that pay for a game before it has been released. As an incentive, publishers will offer small pieces of largely cosmetic DLC, usually in the form of alternative character skins or unique digital items.... Sometimes different items may be offered by specific retailers....When these same, already questionable, marketing tactics are combined with sexual objectification things start to get really insidious.
I agree that Pre-order bonuses (especially retail exclusive bonuses) are annoying. Fortunately, they don't appear to affect the games that I like to play. All I have to worry about is what new Limited Edition game Atlus is going pump out next so that I keep throwing money at them. But then again, this is Anita and therefore anything that has ANYTHING to do with a women is suddenly an insidious ploy to sexual objectify women.

Oh the huge mammaries.
All pre-order bonus packs of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 included the heavily advertised “Big Bikini Bundle”. [Clip: Tekken Tag Tournament 2 big bikini bundle trailer]. And as an added bonus those who pre-ordered at GameStop stores even received a sultry phone call from one of the female characters in the game. Let’s take a listen.
Oh Let's!
 “This is Anna Williams, calling in on behalf of GameStop with some juicy news. Turns out your copy of Tekken Tag Tournament 2 is ready for pickup. Better run along to your nearest GameStop tomorrow morning to pick it up or I might just swipe your copy for myself. And if you happen to have any old games lying around put some of that business savvy to work and trade them in for 30% extra in-store credit when you purchase Tekken Tag Tournament 2. But if you really want to impress me, let’s see how you handle a one-on-one fight. Or to make it interesting, let’s try two-on-one. You game? Either way, I’ll be waiting. Just remember: Power to the Player.”
Is it just me or does the voice actress sound a little bored doing this?
In this case it’s not just the publisher who is responsible for that embarrassing stunt, Bandai Namco partnered with GameStop to make absolutely sure everyone knew the Tekken franchise was designed with a very specific subset of straight male gamers in mind.
Embarrassing? I think it's kind of clever. I would totally pre-order a copy of say Devil May Cry if I'm going to get Dante to call my phone telling me my game is available (BUT ONLY THE REAL DANTE! If it isn't Reuben Langdon I'm not interested!) Also, did you listen to the audio clip? Did Anna refer to the caller as male? Did she ever say "Big boy" or something similar? No. It's only your ASSUMPTION that she is speaking to a straight male player, because you ASSUME that's the only demographic these companies are concern about. True, some of the things she says are suggestive, but all of it can still be read in the context of a fighting tournament. Also, Great job of once again not only throwing another video game company but also throwing a major gaming retailer under the bus because you don't like what they did.
An exclusive outfit called “Sexy Robot Trip” for the female sidekick in the 2010 action-adventure platformer Enslaved was given to players who purchased the game from Best Buy. Pre-ordering Dead or Alive 5 from GameStop granted players access to a series of white swimsuits and bunny ears with which to dress up the game’s female characters. Meanwhile pre-ordering from Amazon unlocked black versions of these same getups.
I'm still waiting for an argument. Or any indication of why any of this is different from your ti-raid on alternate costumes in the previous video.
Occasionally bonuses are included to encourage gamers to buy a full-priced retail version of a game instead of a less expensive used copy.
Because Publishers and Developers don't see any money from the sale of a used game, so companies (EA in particular) started adding these codes to new games to curb the sales of used versions. And now I have been more educational then Anita.
Gamers who bought a new copy of EA’s The Saboteur were given a ticket with a code for the “midnight show”. This special code did two things, first it allowed access to a burlesque show in a cordoned-off area of the game space. Second, it removed clothing from all the female dancers in the game, making all of them topless.
Anita you do know what a Burlesque show is, right? Also, what was The Saboteur rated again? Rated-M for Mature? Huh.
Now, of course, it’s entirely possible for DLC costumes to avoid the Women as Reward trope. For example Mass Effect 2 offered two “Alternative Appearance Packs” that added new clothing and armor for your squadmates which ended up actually providing less sexualized outfits for both Jack and Miranda that are more appropriate for the mission at hand.
And in case you didn't think this was just a carbon copy of the previous video's Alternate Costumes rant, here is the LAST bit of regurgitated crap. The only and I do mean ONLY acceptable outfit for women is to be fully clothed at all times. Nothing revealing. Nothing sexy. Just ugly ass, "practical" outfits. Strange that she had no problem with Jade's clothes despite the fact that she has an exposed cleavage and midrift.

This is evil because I say so.
When discussing representations of sexualized women the argument I hear most often is the old, adage, “sex sells.” This boring excuse isn’t even accurate.
That and "How is this a problem!?" Which I have stated OVER AND OVER again in this reply.
First, just because people will buy something doesn’t automatically mean that thing has value or isn’t harmful. It’s also not a guaranteed avenue to success.
Technically, it does have value. Namely the value of the money being paid for that substance. If you mean value in some other context please elaborate, like a lot. Also, "not a guaranteed avenue to success"? Try telling that to the porn industry.
Second, and more importantly, when it comes to the Women as Reward trope in gaming we are not talking about actual “sex”; the ways women and women’s bodies are turned into trophies for gamers to win or unlock has nothing whatsoever to do with acts of consensual human intimacy.
 Nor does any advertisement that show cases a rocking six-pack or an hourglass figure, which is where the adage of "Sex Sell" originates. The term "Sex Sell" was coined because you can "sell" people the idea of "sex" or that by using this product "sex" with whom you desire becomes all the more likely. In other words, you can sell "Sexy people" or "Sexy ideas" in addition to your product and it will work. That's why "Sex Sells." And it's not just MEN which this works on, WOMEN also buy into the idea of "Sex Sells," just look at all those romance novels with half naked men on the cover.
So when people say “sex sells” what they really mean is “sexualization” and “objectification” of women’s bodies sells” or more succinctly and more accurately “sexism sells.”
NO! I just OUTLINED what the term "Sex Sells" MEANS! Also, again this doesn't just work for men. You can sell sex to WOMEN as well. Hollywood heart-throbs, sexy underwear, Fabio on every single romance novel aimed at WOMEN! All these things are targeting women with the idea of sex. And WOMEN BUY INTO THIS!
And why does sexism sell?
It doesn't. If you actually produce a product that encourages sexism, it will flop HORRIBLY! And that's because we in today's society understand that the treatment of men and women should be fair. So, a game that treats women as nothing more than just objects with no personality or will of their own, who's only purpose is for the main male character to have sex with, will not sell and will be remembered as one of the worse most misogynistic games ever made. And there is a game like that. It's called Ride to Hell. And it is sitting with a Metacritic score of 19%. Which is higher than expected it to have. No Anita, "Sexism" doesn't sell, and the only reason you THINK it does is because you can't tell the difference between "Sexy" and "Sexism."
Well because it’s not challenging dominant paradigms, it’s simply reinforcing ideas about male privilege and entitlement to women’s sexuality that are already entrenched in the cultural zeitgeist.
And once again she keeps talking about challenging dominant paradigms but does NOTHING to challenge said paradigms herself. Why? Because she isn't paid to create solutions, she's paid to create problems. Problems that it is her job to point out (or more actually invent), but actually solving them, that's the job of men! The ironic part is that all Anita is doing is reinforcing the idea that men are privileged and are entitled to women's sexuality in order to rally up her supporters so that they can continue to line her pockets.
When games offer hyper-sexualized DLC outfits for players to buy, publishers and developers are telling presumed straight male players, in not so subtle terms, “YES, these women do indeed exist primarily as toys to fulfill your personal sexual fantasy”.
Oh, now it's "HYPER-SEXUALIZED" when before it's just "sexualized." What's the difference Anita? Or are you just using inflammatory language to make a mountain out of a mole hill? Also, THESE CHARACTERS DO NOT ACTUALLY EXIST! They are just collections of computer generated polygons in the general shape of humans, and some of them aren't even in proper human proportions due to artistic styling (such as Anime inspired characters). And even if these characters exist in some parallel universe, what is preventing the concept that these women wear such clothing WILLINGLY!? Maybe these characters like dressing up in these skimpy outfits, and that's not such a stretch of the imagination as you are implying since women in today's world ALSO dress in skimpy outfits! And lastly, even IF these characters ARE truly design primarily as toy to fulfill the personal sexual fantasies of straight male gamers (the bane of the gaming population apparently) then here is the next question: SO WHAT!? Are these gamers treating REAL women like this? IF NOT, then you have failed to show why this is harmful in ANY WAY! You keep saying it's harmful, but until you show actual harm being done because of this, this is nothing more than an empty assertion.
This is just one of the ways the Women as Reward trope works to perpetuate regressive ideas about gender. See our full episode for a detailed analysis on this topic.
And this video is a complete waste of time. You've said NOTHING that you haven't already said in your Women as Reward video. The only difference is that you spent this time talking about DLC and pre-order bonuses while completely FAILING to explain why there is ANY difference AT ALL! You didn't even say that because it is paid DLC that gamers are being told that they can BUY sex, which is such an obvious route that is ALSO completely STUPID. At first I was surprised that you actually managed to make two videos within a month, but now I see that you literally had nothing new to say. Good day, I hope your popularity is circling the drain right about now.

Ride to Hell Metacritic score:

Until Next Time.

-CRES, She mentions Dead or Alive, yet STILL no mention of Senran Kagura? The game with the most "Hyper-sexualized" costumes of any game?


  1. It seems since her tweet on the last E3 about Doom raised some doubt about her. Her popularity seems to fall, as it relies on her victim status.

    The more she speaks the more she appears as a sex-negative feminist and a Jack Thompson rip-off

    1. Well she ALWAYS appeared to be a sex-negative feminist and a Jack Thompson rip-off. It's just that now it's becoming harder to convince people otherwise with the growing amount of evidence against her.

      The only fear I have about her is that people with power who know nothing about video games seem to be taking her seriously. I mean, the UN!? Seriously!?

  2. I just want to say something to strengthen your "Sexism doesn't sell" statement even more. Metroid Other M and Ride to Hell Retribution were truly sexist games and they bombed horribly.

    1. Ride to Hell, I agree. Metroid: Other M on the other hand, I'd rather say that a strong argument can be made that it's sexist. The thing with Other M is that to make the argument that it is sexist, you'd have to assume that Samus is suppose to be representative of all women rather than just a dumb useless bitch and a complete character assassination of one of the most beloved video game heroines of all time.

    2. Well, there's a blog on Other M talking about why the person who wrote it considers it to be a sexist game. And for reasons that go deeper than what the common complainers say:

      And there's a video for that as well:

      And if you're still not convinced, I'll leave it at it being the interpretation of sexism that caused Other M to crash and burn.

    3. Oh don't get me wrong, I fully understand and grasp why Other M is such a piece of crap from beginning to end and how abominable it's portrayal of Samus is. The issue has more to do with how I choose to define "Sexist" media.

      See, to me for a piece of media to truly be sexist, it had to have been the creators intention to portray it in that light. In other words, the creator's message must be that sexual discrimination is an ideal model for a society and that message must be clear from the media's narrative.

      Though you, I, and 99% of the Metroid fanbase view Other M as complete garbage and that Samus's portrayal is little more than a suicidal co-dependent useless moron with daddy issues, I HIGHLY doubt Sakaguchi's intention was to portray her in this light. His intention was to portray Samus as a more complex human character with flaws and weaknesses; unfortunately, his lack of writing ability killed any potential that concept would have had, leaving us with a character who is not only at odds with her previous portrayals, but who can also be regarded as demeaning towards woman.

      Now, I understand that my definition of a "Sexist game" makes it rather hard to have ANY game be truly sexist (I mean Ride to Hell could also be discounted on the same basis, and that game is 1853 times WORSE than Other M), but that's the thing with Sexism: It's a belief held by PEOPLE not games.

    4. I want to correct a minor mistake you made. His name was Sakamoto. Not Sakaguchi.

    5. Damn I was only 50% right.

    6. Anyway, some of the people calling sexist on Other M don't just focus on Samus; they also add Madeline Bergman and MB into the equation.

    7. To me Madeline Bergman and MB where just walking plot exposition. Honestly, I stopped caring about the plot when Samus nearly died because she forgot to turn on the FREAKIN' GRAVITY SUIT! Oh wait, I'm sorry, Gravity FEATURE, because recoloring the suit is too much work, lets just put a purple haze around it instead.

    8. This comment has been removed by the author.

    9. Either way, both games are great examples of how gamers can be concerned with whether or not a game is insulting to women, which Anita refuses to acknowledge because her narrative would completely fall apart if she did.

  3. Anyway, I made a snarky tweet to Sarkeesian saying, "Sexism sells, eh? No wonder you're rich."

    1. Still, I was proud of that little quip I made and I hope you found it clever.

    2. If Sarkeesian were to block me, I wouldn't care, just as long as my point got across.