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Feminism, Capitalism, and Videogames
Bar Harbor
Feminist Frequency has been doing a Youtube series on Tropes vs Women in Video Games. If you haven't checked it out already, I commend it to your attention. The latest episode touches on an issue I have a bit of personal experience with; how even a game which is relatively non-sexist in its *content* can appear extremely sexist *as advertised*.

I remember when Ken unveiled the BioShock Infinite box cover art for the company. Many people on the team were dismayed. We had been spending considerable time and effort working on a game that had as a central Design Pillar "Elizabeth is the soul of the game", and yet she wasn't even on the front cover. As Ken explained, first to us, and later to the press, it was all about Marketing. This was the cover that Marketing believed would sell the most copies.

Feminist Frequency is arguing for social change. It's no accident that the positive examples noted therein are all games from small, independent companies. Games from large corporations are beholden to the Almighty Dollar. Marketing departments, by and large, want to sell games to the audiences that *currently* exist. Attempting to expand the potential audience, or to try and change the attitudes of the existing audience, are not on the agenda. Indeed, they would be seen as financially risky maneuvers, ones that most corporations would not approve.

Of course, change *is* risky. And any tentative experiments which result in failure (or even *perceived* failure) make the suits even less willing to try new things.

Once again, it comes down to Capitalism. When profit is the only standard of value, social issues get ignored.

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That sounds very frustrating.

Now, usually, I'm all down with blaming things on capitalism. But I think in this case, cowardice gets a bigger slice of the pie. While not all great risks come with great rewards, the only great rewards come through taking great risks.

I've been having this conversation a lot lately with fellow therapists, concerning their marketing for their practices. Apparently there's a whole cottage industry of coa[ch|x]ing therapists into letting go of their death grip on doing what all the other therapists are doing, and do their own thing, which, it turns out, is what is most typically highly profitable. The market really rewards distinguishing yourself from your competition. Who knew, right? *rolls eyes*

ETA: I keep coming back to the parable of the two American shoe salesmen who go to Africa. "PROSPECTS TERRIBLE," one wires back, "NOBODY HERE WEARS SHOES." The other: "FABULOUS OPPORTUNITY. NOBODY HERE HAS SHOES."

Edited at 2013-11-22 10:21 pm (UTC)

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