Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Read Lately: Go Make Me A Sandwich

  • The gaming community is, as a rule, pretty disgusting. From the 13 year old homophobe on Xbox Live all the way up to the developers and publishers who push sexual objectification to sell their games, gaming can be spectacularly unfriendly. It does not have to be that way, and it should not be.

  • Unfortunately, many of the blogs and websites that discuss these issues are unfriendly in their own ways. A lot of the language used and the tone of writing can feel quite exclusionary, which I find terribly ironic. I might have thought that of all such blogs until someone introduced me to Go Make Me A Sandwich.

  • Although her blog focuses primarily on sexual imagery, Wundergeek's work is a call to arms over all that is wrong with gaming. She makes strong arguments backed by extensive statistics and a multitude of egregious examples. While other blogs of its type leaving me rolling my eyes, Go Make Me A Sandwich just makes me mad that we have to put up with this in today's world. Woman are becoming much more prevalent in gaming, and yet the gaming world does everything it can to remind us that it is still a boy's club.

  • It's sad to admit, but several times I've found the example images on her blog quite appealing. No matter how enlightened I may pretend to be, the animal part of my brain cannot help but be titillated. It should not be surprising since these images are laser focused on appealing to me. But that makes me even more angry, knowing that their sexual thoughtlessness is incidental to their work at manipulating me. They are trying to sell games to me so hard that they can offend an entire sex without even caring about the consequences. And the occasional positive portrayal the Wundergeek points out are no less interesting as characters without devolving to objectification.

  • We should expect more from our community. I can't expect that we can change every idiot on the internet, but we can certainly lead by example. And that means that developers and publishers have to take responsibility for designing and marketing their games in a more inclusive way. And until they do, they can all get their own damn sandwiches.

© 2011 Marty Runyon. All rights reserved.


  1. I have to say I applaud blogs like GMMAS getting a good message out there. On the other hand, I've always felt like the "odd one out" and at times a traitor to my gender because I don't always feel the same way as my feminist peers. I am aware I have my own strong feelings on sexuality and objectification of women in games. Sure, on the rare occasion I've been offended by extreme examples of sexual objectification, but I also believe that if you go looking for ways to be offended, chances are you will be.

    I love the female body, and as an artist I am constantly getting commissions to do sketches of female comic idols or pieces featuring women in fantasy, sci-fi, geek culture, etc. Apparently, men think I draw very beautiful and sexy women. I've never felt guilty with my work in this. I believe a sexually appealing woman can also be a powerful, beautiful image. I understand how other women might see it as degrading, but personally I see it as empowering.

    I won't deny I am sometimes drawn to the same images that you admit to find appealing and titillating. It was how I discovered the beautiful artwork of the late Michael Turner. And when I play games, I'm first to admit I'm one of those women who will slide the boob size all the way to the right, just because I feel like it.

    Which reminds me, a turning point for my thought processes regarding this topic happened for me, when one time I was on a message board reading about a woman's experience with breast implants and enhancement. Speaking up against other women who were going on about how boob jobs are playing into objectification and are "for the men", she said the reason she got them was for herself and purely for herself. They made her feel more like a woman, confident, beautiful and strong, and it in turn made her feel like a better person and if all the men in the world dropped dead she still would have gotten them and didn't apologize for it. I'm all for the feminist movement, but I also feel some need to step back and realize women are a diverse group, and everyone's different. Okay, rambling over.

  2. @ MMOGC - Far be it from me to ever tell an individual that their tastes are incorrect. As I said in my Guild Wars article, the look of the characters played an overly large part in my decision to buy the game. Women, like any large group, should not be mistaken for being of a single opinion about anything.

    My problem is that the objectification is the default position for almost the entire industry. I love seeing that stuff, but I don't think having properly dressed avatars should be considered unusual.

  3. I guess what I'm also trying to say is...try not to feel upset or angry you feel this way :P Just because you find a game box alluring doesn't mean you're a chauvinist pig, and seriously, it drives me nuts when I see people try to guilt men into thinking they are simply for buying games with a scantily clad woman on the box. I'm not excusing blatantly using sex to sell games, but I actually think the majority of the industry does it tastefully. Yes, a woman's sexuality is often emphasized, but it's very rare that it makes for the entire focus of the game. As with everything in life, moderation is good, extremes are bad.

  4. @ MMOGC - Fair enough. I completely agree: moderation is good, extremes are bad.