Game Developers and Unintentional Sexism

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in games on (#3FY)
story imageThe Atlantic looked at a recent update from the developers of the game Desktop Dungeons to discuss problems with gender bias in gaming , asking "can a work be racist or sexist if its creator doesn't mean for it to be?"
The developers of the game had recently been adding female character art to their game with the intention that they would be "adventurers first and runway models second."
While activly trying to avoid doing everything the "simple" way, they came into some problems due to subconcious shorthands creeping in.
"This adjustment turned out to be startlingly non-trivial - you'd think that a bunch of supposedly conscious, mindful individuals would instantly be able to nail a "good female look" (bonus points for having a woman on our crew, right?), but huge swathes of our artistic language tended to be informed by sexist and one-dimensional portrayals. We regularly surprised ourselves with how much we took for granted."

Of course (Score: 2, Insightful)

by guises@pipedot.org on 2014-03-14 07:22 (#J6)

I'd say that a work can only be sexist or racist if its creator doesn't mean for it to be. Intentional racism is generally either a bad joke or a troll - done to provoke. The KKK isn't intentionally racist, assuming that they actually believe what they preach.

As for the folks in the article, these people seem to be searching for something to feel guilty about. There are some real negative stereotypes, but smooth skin? Homogenised facial structures (whatever that means)? Their solution seems to have been to make all of their female characters either old or weird looking, and from a player's perspective (male) I kinda like that. Putting so much thought into the portraits seems to have given them more character than most. However, there's nothing particularly enlightened here - no one likes to fantasize about being ugly. Even the grizzled-veteran-with-the-knife-fighting-scars fantasy is just a different kind of attractiveness.

That said, how we relate to our media is an interesting subject. The best article that I can recall was this one comparing four versions of The Office. It's not all about beauty, but that's part of it:

http://www.slate.com/articles/arts/television/2006/09/foreign_office.html
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