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StonedCrows

  • Registered 14 days ago
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  • Avatar for StonedCrows StonedCrows 14 days ago

    @UnskippableCutscene

    Thanks for the Godwin fallacy. I know you're having a go at me and that's not what I said t all. What I did say is that it's the responsibility of developers to not normalise the hatred that groups like the Alt-Right spew. Are you a developer? Are you of the Alt-Right? No? Then I wasn't talking about you.

    I don't actually talk up much. As an autistic person, I'm used to just being shunned, silenced, and dehumanised anyway. So that's nothing new. I figured I'd speak up on a few sites, just to see what the reactions were like...

    That'll teach me for posting outside of Kotaku, Polygon, and ResetEra I guess. Can't say I didn't try. Empathy is just a rare commodity, these days. Sociopathy is so much more popular.

    -- StonedCrows

    Posted in There's More to Pyra—and Xenoblade Chronicles 2—than a Sexy Fanservice Outfit

  • Avatar for StonedCrows StonedCrows 14 days ago

    @nadiaoxford

    1) I never did. As I said in my opening statement, despite these factors I'm sure you've still experienced prejudice. Which is why I was confused by your opinion. Not hat I think ou haven't experienced prejudice, but rather that you'd have this opinion in spite of it. That's unusual to me. If you have experienced such prejudice then certainly you'd be in a poistion to empathise?

    2) I had no issue with the body of your article. It was more the conclusion of it all that seemed to be unfortunate.

    3) This is a multifaceted response, I only know how to deal with that by segmenting it in order to deal with each point individually. I hope you can bear with me.

    "I don't see Pyra and Rex as a slave / master relationship. I just don't. I know you've provided examples here, but I'm afraid they just don't gel with me."

    That's fine. It's all a matter of perspective. My point is is that if I can perceive that, and others on other forums have perceived that, then there's something in the game that's conveying that. The concept of "waifu" is applied to Pyra for a reason. It might not gel with you, because you're invested in the game and you haven't thought about it that way, but that doesn't mean that it cannot be perceived that way. If the game is conveying this to enough people, though, there is a problem there.

    Why would we want to bury that problem? We could face that it is an issue and deal with the underlying problems. We could offer Pyra more agency to choose things for herself. We could change the story so that Rex doesn't effectively own her. There's a lot of approaches we could take to reduce the feeling of Pyra as a subservient object to Rex. Even in combat she fulfils a subservient role, being a background support character, supporting Rex as he fights rather than fighting with him. There are a lot of aspects that offer credence and weight to my perspective. And as I said, it's not just my perspective.

    You can find a lot of threads online (GameFAQs was rife with this at one point) talking about how much they love that Pyra is a submissive "waifu."

    " I definitely don't see Pyra as a "young girl," which is something you said in my review."

    That's a matter of opinion, again. It's a subjective factor. I think you're pulaying the dubbed version, yes? In the Japanese voiced version, she sounds extremely young. That's the version that most fans will be playing with, judging from the sentiment around numerous forums, along with how utterly disliked the Western voice acting is.

    "[...] outside of her outfit, she doesn't subscribe to the tropes that make me uncomfortable with some female anime and game leads (e.g. high-pitched squealing about Rex being her big brother and whatnot)."

    Again, this is present in the Japanese dialogue. Which Nintendo made a big deal about including. Also, there was that scene where Rex comments on how 'heavy' she is and the camera zooms right in on her breasts as she flinches, just to have them wobble. There are a lot of moments like that. And have you seen those breast physics in combat? It's... not great. i'd say that the tropes are there en force.

    "I won't get too far into the story, but it's not a spoiler to say Pyra saved Rex's life [...]"

    Yes, but this just fits into the trope of the submissive healer. Another really questionable trope that's well known. She didn't do it by taking charge, marching out into the battlefield, and saving his butt by being a competent fighter where he was not.

    "[...] there's nothing about Pyra that tells me she's a mindless doll following Rex out of some kind dog-like loyalty."

    That's exactly the impression I got, sorry. We'll just have to agree to disagree, here. Though I am raising an eyebrow at how you're ignoring the various camera zoom-ins on her thighs, breasts, and so on. Those are tropes that don't make you uncomfortable? It might just be that you aren't uncomfortable with this topic, so whilst you may have experienced prejudice, you might be fortunate enough to have avoided the kind of hatred my partner has faced.

    And that was my point.

    Thanks for taking the time to read and reply.

    -- StonedCrowsEdited 2 weeks ago by Unknown

    Posted in There's More to Pyra—and Xenoblade Chronicles 2—than a Sexy Fanservice Outfit

  • Avatar for StonedCrows StonedCrows 14 days ago

    Even as a conventionally attractive, white woman, Nadia, you're bound to have seen some of the toxic attitudes this kind of behaviour normalises. I wrote a post about this on the review, and I stand by what I said, there. It's not just about the character, it's about how people react to the character and what attitudes are validated by its existence. If you're not (as a base value) offering skimpy and non-skimpy outfits for all genders, what message does that send to the misogynists out there who berate, belittle, and dehumanise women for little more than being a little overweight? Or the ones who say 'she was asking for it' about a woman in a raunchy outfit if she was raped? This is the kind of thing we're dealing with, and why the video games industry (along with every other medium) needs to be much more responsible.

    Sure, Japan will always be Japan. That doesn't mean that it can't be the job of localisation teams to create a more healthy environment to educate the West on what should be taboos. Anything that validates a person's opinion of a woman as an object should be questioned, I feel. as a person who has a partner who's a little overweight, and has been mocked for it all of her life, I feel a great deal of empathy for what women go through. I guess it's less if you are fortunate enough to be conventionally attractive, white, healthy, and well off... But not all are, and there are things that those who aren't have to deal with on a day to day basis.

    I'd really ask you, Nadia, and anyone else to read the post I made on the review and give it fair consideration. Especially the part where I talk about autism and how this kind of behaviour has affected me with ableist attitudes are normalised whenever a video game shows an autistic person being abused.

    Consider this: In the game, Pyra is portrayed as Rex's slave. I've played it, so I know this is true. She's submissive, secondary to the male (Rex), and willing to do whatever he wants. She's dressed in bondage/harem gear and ready to follow him to the ends of the earth, ready to die for him. She's Rex's property, as his sword. And this is considered desirable? This is a good thing to normalise? Like I said, the onus should be on the localisation teams to fix these problems before the game even makes it to market. The more you normalise these problems, the worse they're going to get.

    So, my partner is told, by toxic males, that she's ugly and fat. And then they point at examples of submissive, slim, seen-but-not-heard women as examples of how she should be. When this has happened all of her life, this becomes a really scarring, tragic thing. What happens then is that examples of women like this are hurtful to her, because they're the tools used to attack her. As such, she could never enjoy a game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 because it embodies, represents, and further normalises the kind of hate she's had to endure.

    There's a video I'm going to link again, too. I hope that's okay.



    I think that's worth watching and understanding. As a person who's conventionally attractive, Nadia, you might not have experienced men telling you what you should be as much as my partner has. I don't know. I'm getting that impression a little, though. However, I think it's very important to have empathy for the women who have endured that, it's important to be united behind this cause so that they won't need to be hurt like this again. There's no reason for a game like Xenoblade Chronicles 2 to reinforce these damaging things.

    And like I said in my other post, it's a few hours work per character to add the outfits necessary. This is why outfit DLC is so common. There is the argument made, of course, that this takes resources away from other parts of the game but that's simply not true. You don't have one guy who's working on programming, gameplay design, landscaping design, sound design, sound effects, musical tracks, et cetera. You have different people for different roles. Monolith Soft and Nintendo likely have lots of talented outfit designers just sitting around whose talents they could've pulled in on to add options when they localised Xenoblade Chronicles 2.

    I'm not attacking anyone here. I'm just saying that it's easy to ignore the people who're hurt by this. It's easy to dehumanise them and blame the victim. It's easy to just look at my partner who's dealt with this kind of thing all of her life and tell her to grow a thicker skin. You could say the same to me for all the bigoted hatred I've experienced. It doesn't work that way. If so many people are always telling you these things, it does get to you, it scars you, and eventually it can break you. If you've never experienced that kind of hatred? Lucky! But you are lucky. You're incredibly fortunate and privileged. That's fine.

    Does that make it okay that others have suffered to such an extreme degree, though? Would you stand by and allow someone to feel suicidal because of these kinds of attacks? Then why do we allow for entertainment that normalises, reinforces, and validates how these toxic people (groups like the Alt-Right, for example) view the world?

    Yes, it was always like that. I know.

    Should it be, now?

    Now we've got better localisation teams. Now the climate has changed and women are dealing with so much hate in both the real world and on the Internet that it's resulting in higher suicide rates. And now we have the power to do something about it. IT feels cowardly, to me, to just 'accept the bad' when other people are suffering.

    There's more I could say about this, but it'd just be retreading what I said in the review article. So you can read my post there for further thoughts I have about this and how I'd go about fixing it.

    Thanks for reading.

    - StonedCrowsEdited 2 weeks ago by Unknown

    Posted in There's More to Pyra—and Xenoblade Chronicles 2—than a Sexy Fanservice Outfit

  • Avatar for StonedCrows StonedCrows 14 days ago

    The point about the depiction of women, for me, is how unfortunate it is that Japanese developers tend to forget that women are actually human beings, too. Perhaps this requires an uncommon level of introspection and empathy, but women are human beings, just like any guy, and they can be hurt and damaged by harmful depictions. If a younger girl is into JRPGs but she finds herself consistently exposed to women who're objectified, underdressed versus their male counterparts, submissive, ineffectual, and always depicted as secondary to all male characters? Then that's going to be harmful. Hopefully I won't have to explain why.

    The thing is? This continues to be harmful into adulthood. If a person already has dealt with a lot of this, then their self-image might have already been eroded to the point where they're neurotic. What they don't need, then, is a video game where the raunchy designs lead to certain kinds of male gamers (generally the Alt-Right, as you can likely guess) making rape jokes at the expense of that character. It's just a simple matter of empathy.

    The Alt-Right reactionary perspective here would be to accuse me of having an agenda to cover women up. Why would I do that? That's not a solution to anything, is it? There are many different kinds of people out there, and here's where the problem lies. The issue is with limited depictions of only a very tiny subset of people who're over-represented. Yes, there might be women who enjoy dressing up in skimpy outfits to be leered at and objectified by men. I cannot deny they might exist. But what about the conversation that should be had though about people who think that's dehumanising? That they're almost behaving like wilful slaves?

    What if a woman wants to be independent, what if she wans to have a positive body image, and what if she wants to dress however she pleases? What then? And what if all they tend to see are women like Pyra, Quiet, and even Lara Croft, who're obviously designed for the delectation of the hormonally-focused white, male gamer. It's not like these women are ever people of colour, either, is it? That's also a discussion worth having.

    And yet these discussions are never had by games.

    It reminds me of something in Dreamfall Chapters that hurt me, personally, as an autistic person. In that game, there was a scene where one character rather savagely strips down another for being autistic with just about every loaded, bigoted insult under the sun. The writer's defence? There are bad people in reality, so it's fine to also depict this behaviour in a video game. This is absolutely correct! However, there are also decent, ethically capable people in this reality of ours who aren't so shallow and cowardly that they wouldn't speak out against something so sordid.

    In reality, if I were to be stripped down in public by another person for being autistic? Someone would step in and say "Hey, that's not right. Whatever the problem, here, it shouldn't be focused on autism. That's sick, and you should feel bad about it! Don't be so bigoted."

    It might not be quite so eloquent, of course, but that would be the gist. Someone would be upset enough by this display of prejudice enough to act. So if a woman is dressing up in what's effectively bondage gear whilst out in public, and acting in a submissive, scared way toward a man who clearly owns her in some way? Well, that's going to be something that someone may have something to say about. Is that legal? Is that ethical? Is that moral? Is that right? Is she suffering? Is she hurt? Is she in pain? There would be a discussion to be had about it, and that discussion would be interesting.

    Video games developers, however, tend to be cowardly. They'd rather appeal to the Alt-Right mindset of treating women as though they aren't exactly human rather than ever trying to have a conversation so provocative.

    And if you can't go as far as having this conversation? Then why not simply offer both skimpy and non-skimpy outfits to all genders so that the player is able to make choices about the environment they play video games in. This might not discourage the Alt-Right from making rape jokes, but at the very least it wouldn't feel as though the game is actively encouraging that to happen. Which, I personally feel, Xenoblade Chronicles 2 is. If you were to offer these options, it wouldn't feel as though the game were justifying their misogynistic outlook and perspective of women, it wouldn't validate and normalise how they feel since most people would choose to not depict women in that way. Including actual women who're playing, too.

    Plus, these options would create a discussion by making these unfortunate people feel uncomfortable by having a submissive male character who might be dressed up in bondage gear. That might actually trigger some empathy. I wish empathy was more commonplace, to be honest, but I sometimes am left feeling that our world is more focused around sociopathy than actually trying to figure out how other people feel and how they might be damaged in very real, permanent ways by misogynistic 'humour.'

    And how many of these people do you think would cry misandry despite the options for both genders being equal? That in and of itself would create a discussion and make it obvious to them that they're not in a good ethical or moral position. Since the options in the game would be then equal for both genders, but they'd only see how it affects the men.

    Would it be so hard to offer skimpy and non-skimpy outfit options for every character in the game? The Western release of Xenoblade Chronicles X did just that. X was a game I could show my partner, which made me very happy. You see, my partner is someone whose body image has been hurt by these toxic behaviours and it reminds her of how people like the Alt-Right feel about women whenever she's exposed t it. Yeah, this kind of thing tends to leave women emotionally scarred, imagine that.

    In fact, there's a video I'd like you to watch. If you would:



    This is how I often feel in regards to my partner. She doesn't see herself as beautiful because genuinely awful people are always telling her that she can't be beautiful if she's even a little overweight. I see her as beautiful. I am sometimes given to wonder if the people who struggle for vain beauty do so because it's all they have, and they attack disdainfully out of jealousy for a person who has beauty from depth, empathy, and character. I don't know why, really, though. I am just able to feel the hate, too.

    Empathy will do that.

    So, why can't games at least offer skimpy and non-skimpy options to all genders? That'd be so easy to do. And having actually talked at length with a modeller in the industry, I know it's not hard to create another outfit. If you doubt this, consider that modders do this all the time, for free. It's a really easy thing to do. The whole process would take a few hours, at most, per character. That's not a whole lot of development time, is it?

    Why do you thnk DLC outfits exist?

    And if a game developer wanted to take this a step further without being brave enough to actually include the conversation of how this can serve to emotionally damage women? Why not have character options. Xenoblade Chronicles forces you to partner up with a slave. A slave. You own her, she's submissive to you and will do whatever you desire, she's wearing sexually provocative bondage gear... She's a slave. Your slave. I feel incredibly uncomfortable just thinking about that.

    Pyra is Rex's slave. There's no two ways about that. She has no agency of her own, she has no will to do anything by herself. She's just there to enable him and help him with whatever he needs. Everything she does and is fits the definition of a slave perfectly. Do you not think that's a little problematic? I do. I'm not calling you sexist, right now. Understand that. I'm not saying you support slavery, either. What I am saying is that you've never even thought about this before I challenged you to do so, because the game normalises this concept of slavery of women. How do you feel now?

    Now what if you could have a blade who's independent, instead? She has her own will, she has her own desires, needs, and motivations. This creates a very different personality to Pyra's. In skimpy armour, she'd come across as being like Etna from Disgaea, who isn't a problematic character despite dressing provocatively because she's in control of her own sexuality, she isn't depicted as a slave. Of course, Etna is problematic because of her age, she's far too young. If you remove Etna's age from the equation, though, then she's a powerful lady who's in control of her own sexuality who'd curb-stomp anyone who tried to objectify her.

    And that's something you can absolutely do. However, you could also have a woman in full body attire like men always tend to wear. Then her depiction could be that of an independent woman who has no interest in sexuality, she's a professional and she just wants to be the most effective person on the battlefield that she can be. Not unlike any male soldier. I think that these options are actually important. By having both personality and clothing options, it goes a step further in the right direction.

    It would be nice to see games have the discussion I mentioned earlier. I'd love to see that, but I know publishers are too cowardly for that as they think of profits first, and everything else second. So if they feel they're going to lose out on a demographic, they won't do it. Thing is? I think the demographic of people with empathy is actually larger than that of the Alt-Right. If I believed otherwise, I wouldn't even be writing this. So I believe that a game which challenges objectification by having a conversation about it could be very, very popular. The game owuldn't be entirely about that, ultimately, but if one were to include it as an element I think it would appreciate that game's value.

    Even without that, though, I feel like the option of skimpy vs. non-skimpy outfits for all genders should be a basic inclusion in every game. And if you can only have one? Then make it that way for everyone! Everyone is skimpy! Or everyone is fully clothed and professional! The issue here, as you can hopefully understand, is one of inequality. If a young girl is playing a game and she asks why this woman is dressed that way, behaving like a slave, whereas the men are fully dressed, behaving professionally, and possess agency that the female characters do not? What do you tell her?

    If a grown woman (your girlfriend, your mother, your sister, or any other kind of relation) were to ask this question, even? What would you say? How can this be jsutified? The simple answer is that it can't. That's why groups like the Alt-Right use projection, smoke and mirrors, and ad hominem to attack people instead of making a logical, coherent argument.

    And here's the thing: Having come as far with me as you did (if you're still reading)? Pyra is problematic because, let's face it, she has the face and voice of an incredibly young girl. Someone in their early teens, roughly. She looks like a young teenager with breast augmentation, who's been dressed in a slave outfit, and given a submissive personality. Don't you find that at all problematic? Not even a little bit? Shouldn't you feel just a little bit ashamed for not being bothered by that? I would. Like I said, women are people, too. And it worried me how often that seems to be forgotten.

    So why isn't Xenoblade Chronicles 2 offering different clothing options at least? I think it's a valid question. There's an agenda, there, because they'd otherwise just do it. It doesn't cost much time, money, or manpower to include them. You could have a version of Pyra who's dressed profesionally, without the balloon breasts, which would make the game inclusive of women gamers rather than dismissive. Wouldn't that be a good thing? So why has that not happened? Why would anyone argue against that?

    The problem, ultimately, is sexism. It's uncomfortable, but it is a truth. The issue is, of course, that sexism can happen by proxy if people are convinced by sexists to go along with something because they're just not thinking about it, they're not engaging their empathy and challenging themselves. So they allow themselves to be tricked into a mindset where women aren't human beings, they're just objects. And if, having shone a light on that, this doesn't perturb you? That would worry me. It should perturb you.

    Women ARE human beings, after all. They feel, just as you do. And they can be hurt, just as you can. They're not robots. They're not homunculi. They're people. So why aren't they being treated like people by male gamers? It's a fair question, isn't it?

    So instead of attacking those who raise issue with the obvious problems of Xenoblade Chronicles 2, we should instead be asking Nintendo some questions that might be very uncomfortable for them.

    Why would they not include outfit options? It's a simple matter. It could be done in a matter of days with the laziest of interns (I'll point again at modders to make my point). So why didn'tt hey? Why?

    Is this game intentionally targeted at sexists? If so, then what does that say about the people who're playing and enjoying it right now? How does that make you feel? The thing is, like I said, I just think that a lot of people haven't thought about it, because they don't bother to engage their empathy much. So Pyra being Rex's sexy, submissive slave girl just flies right past their judgement as they haven't given it the time of day to consider.

    And the Alt-Right campaign against anyone who isn't bigoted in just about every way (sexist, racist, ableist, et cetera) has been a very succesful one. If I -- or anyone else -- brings up this matter, it's easy to shrug it off with 'lol SJWs,' but is that the right answer? Is that a valid answer for you? Is that how you think we should answer these questions? Is dismissal of the feelings of other, real people ever a valid option? Like I said, the Alt-Right are fantastic at tricking and conning people into normalising the most toxic forms of hatred. It's really unfortunate, and it's not right.

    I could be judgemental and say "You should know better!" but I know that a lot of people just don't bother to think about this. I think that a lot of the problem is with education. That's why, for me, the onus lies on both governments and the entertainment industry to challenge people and show the Alt-Right for the charlatans they are. Why isn't an ethics class a basic staple of every young person's curriculum in every first world country? Why do video games publishers feel they need to be too cowardly to ask uncomfortable questions of their audience?

    I'd personally feel insulted by that. I mean, I'm not an idiot. I'm okay with being challenged. If I'm wrong about something, present me with plenty of evidence and a logical point and I'll concede. I'm a reasonable, sensible, intelligent human being. Which I imagine is true for most of you. So why are video games publishers catering to stupidity? Why are they going for the incredibly lazy, easy option of just pandering to the Alt-Right, regressive mindset?

    I have this mental image that when one of the talking heads of a publisher steps up on stage and looks at their audience, they just see a gaggle of Trumps and adjust their speech accordingly. Is that true?

    I mean, it might not be true that they do that. They might not. But with how the industry is behaving right now, it feels that way. If it wasn't then, like I said, we'd at least commonly see both skimpy and non-skimpy options for all genders, right? And yet, here we are, with yet another game that's perpetuating and normalising hatreds.

    So if rape jokes of Pyra are abundant? That's very much Monolith Soft and Nintendo's fault. Yes, the blame lands squarely at their feet. Because they're offering justification for that behaviour by not providing non-skimpy options for Pyra, and skimpy options for Rex. As I said, that should be a bare minimum necessity to help deal with this problem. If they had done that, I wouldn't have an argument. In fact, I'd be happy! So would my partner. And then if they make rape jokes about Pyra, what they're doing is just showing us how sad and pathetic they are for choosing to sexualise her, instead of having that normalised by the game itself.

    I hope this has provided food for thought. I really do. I want people thinking about this more and realising what the problems are and from where they stem. If Nintendo and Monolith Soft are normalising Alt-Right misogyny, then they own responsibility for that. The onus is on them, it's their responsibility to do something about it. Ideally, they should have done something aobut it before the game was launched, of course. I just hope that they learn from this and act more responsibly in the future.

    Because right now? If I say that Nintendo is a company that supports the perspective of women as objectified, underaged, bondage-dressed, submissive slaves? I wouldn't be wrong. That's right there, in Xenoblade Chronicles 2, spelled out in bright neon letters for all to see. If I was Nintendo, I wouldn't be okay with that.

    All they had to do, as a base minimum, was offer clothing options. So why not? Why didn't they? Is there a good answer? Or is it just pandering to the worst kinds of people on the internet?

    So I hope I've gotten some thinking going on this topic, that was my only goal from the outset. I'm not here to insult, hurt, or undermine you. I genuinely think that most men in this are innocent. They just weren't thinking. They didn't think, so they just allowed it to pass them by. Now you are thinking, so what you do now that you are is up to you. If you choose to behave like the Alt-Right, then there's nothing I can say to you. But I'd rather htink that the majority will be as bothered by this as I am.

    It all comes down to this: Women are people too. How could we ever forget that? It's terrifying that we ever could have. Which is a point that women gamers have been yelling at us for decades.

    Thank you for reading.

    -- StonedCrows

    Posted in Xenoblade Chronicles 2 Review: An RPG With the Heart and Soul of a Titan

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