Wah wah wah poor me etc - Tactical Ninja
Aug. 22nd, 2013
09:11 am - Wah wah wah poor me etc
Today I am feeling somewhat disheartened.
Yesterday, Bioware released the second Dev Diary video (read - promotional stuff to get fans excited) about Dragon Age: Inquisition. This was relevant to my interests *ahem* so I watched it. On face value, it's pretty exciting - I can see what they mean about taking a leaf from Skyrim's book, and I'm excited about what they are doing with the story and the choices you can make as a player. But.. where are the women? I looked, and could see absolutely no evidence of a female protagonist.
Don't get me wrong, I know there will be the option to play a female protagonist, but in the promotional material? Nada. There's even a section in the voiceover that goes:
"Creating the Inquisitor himself, it's really about creating your character and being the person that you want to be - be that an elf, or a dwarf, or a human. Mage, rogue, warrior. So you've really have a lot of choices.."
.. yet they don't mention the choice to play a woman, and they refer to the Inquisitor himself as the default. So yeah, you'll get to play a woman but in terms of telling the world about the game, we don't exist. I made this tweet about my concern:
@tatjna: "2nd #DAI trailer … Still no recognition of female protagonists. @bioware @dragonage @ea Step up please."
and got this reply:
@dragonage: "@tatjna @bioware @EA Don't worry, Wendy. We'll get there. :)"
Yes, the @dragonage account knows my name - he's the guy that rounded me up for the Bioware blog. It was nice of him to reply and acknowledge. It was less nice of the bro douchebag who misinterpreted my tweet to assume I thought there'd be no female protagonist at all and called me a fucking dumbarse and then linked me to pictures of female assets in the gamedev.
Meanwhile, on the Bioware Social Network, seems I'm not the only one who's noticed this omission. That link, by the way, has cut out all the bros going "I don't see a problem" and only shows the responses from the Bioware staff. As you can see there are differing viewpoints, but the general gist is that they acknowledge the frustration of being excluded yet again, but that the male concept art is done first (what they dont say is 'by default') and there's a bit of 'probably because marketing to the majority' in there too. And some linking to the one split-second showing of a female protagonist in the video and going "See? She's in there!" As if half a second of one somewhat androgynous-looking and therefore hard to spot female PC in the video makes it ok that we're excluded from the rest.
OK, I buy that, there will likely eventually be a promotional video that represents a female PC, but as usual the male is the default and we have to jump up and down about it (and take the flak for jumping up and down about it) in order to be recognised. And this is from a developer that is known for its inclusivity, and has developed a disproportionately large female fanbase because of it.
Now, that female fanbase seems to dominate in the area of creative endeavours that expand on the gameworld outside of the game. So far, the three artists who've been featured on the Bioware blog about fan art are all women. Fanfiction is written by mostly women. Cosplayers are mostly women. Fanvids seem to be mostly made by women. So there is quite a large culture of creativity and interest and endeavour attached to these games that is driven, by and large, by women - and this culture is one of the things that keeps interest up between game releases. I am already eyeing up the promo videos for costumes I want to make into reality, you know?
So anyway, fast forward to yesterday evening, and I still haven't heard back from Digital Nationz. "What is Digital Nationz?" I hear you ask. Well, it's a game expo that's happening in Auckland in late September, that's modelled on Pax and E3 styles - so there'll be LAN tournaments and new/developing playable game demos, XBoxOne and PS4 trials, workshops, talks, all the usual stuff. But there was no mention on their site of cosplay. Now, most large expos have a contest and/or a parade, and it usually gets a mention. It would be fairly safe to assume that cosplay will be a thing at DNZ as well, but since there is no mention of it on the site and no previous-year photos to check (it's in its first year), I wasn't sure, so I emailed them and asked because I would like to go, and I would like to take my newly-minted silly costume and prance about in it. It would add to the experience for me.
They ignored me.
So I tweeted them.
So far, they have ignored that too.
So I went to their Facebook page, where there's a Q&A. There's no mention of it there either - and I can't ask a question there because I don't have Facebook. I did note that the people talking there were almost entirely guys. Then I went to their Q&A forum on Gameplanet to see if it's mentioned there. And it seems that one of the hot issues among the forum denizens there is "Will there be booth babes?"
Seriously. The organisers dodged the question as long as they could, and then when pressed, said something vague about how it was up to the exhibitors but that the general trend has been away from that sort of thing and towards having devs there to talk to about game stuff.
It seems they are willing to answer questions about booth babes, but not about cosplay. And because every single forum about this topic seems to be dominated by guys, and because the people there are the sort of people who go on and on about booth babes, I don't feel welcome.
I mean, I could be completely wrong about this, maybe my question would be answered and nobody else would give me a hard time, but I can't help but think that because it's not mentioned on the site, because my direct asking has been ignored, because the FB page is a sausage fest and because the Gameplanet forum is full of guys that want to ogle booth babes, I'd end up regretting posting a question about such a 'girly' thing as cosplay. I am actually afraid to post my question in a forum with that culture. I am afraid that I'll be flamed because I'm interested in something that isn't FPS over LAN, even though booth babes aren't FPS over LAN either. That's apparently different and valid.
Dr Wheel suggested I create a generic sockpuppet called Pimply Teenager and ask my question, but by that time I was feeling so unwelcome in the gaming world that I was on the point of tears. Yes, I could be strong and brave and step forward and expose myself and take the risks because how else will women ever get a look in if we don't? But I've done that my entire life, I've been a gamer for 30-odd years and I'm still having to do this, and sometimes I just don't have enough chutzpah to face it. And that is even with me being the right sort of geek to fit right into what they are doing - a gamer who plays with wearable microcontroller art* for fun. I am also a middle aged woman who wants to cosplay and thus not the target demographic, and that was made abundantly clear to me yesterday.
And the sad part is this is really not a new thing. It's ongoing and the denial from the people who don't see a problem because they have never had to fight for inclusion is really, really disheartening.
*There is a workshop about this at the event.
And I still don't know if Digital Nationz will be cosplay-friendly. I could just assume it will be and go anyway, but:
a) Nothing that has happened so far has made me feel welcome at this event
b) I am very new to cosplay and therefore somewhat unsure of even how to go about it.
It would be nice to know there will be a bunch of other, more experienced people there that I could interact with, that would get what I'm trying to do, that would make me feel welcome and that I could form some sort of community with. I don't know this, so it seems I won't be going.
And thus, I am disheartened. This is emerging as freaking out about whether or not we'll be able to rent our house out, because I'm a rockstar at transference. We interview the tenancy management guy tonight. Please wish us luck.
 I got a response from the DNZ people:
@DIGITALNATIONZ: "Hi Tatjna, our stance is simply "you can if you want", but there are no planned Cosplay competitions etc. Cheers ^JG"
So, I don't know.