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The shame game in games

July 13, 2012

Can videogames make you feel ashamed?

Absolutely!  There are plenty of ways in which videogames can instill shame in those who play them.  Anyone who has put enough time into either playing or watching certain titles can find something to be embarrassed over.  Examples include:

  • Newer entries in a particular series being arguably or objectively worse than earlier entries
  • Awkward voice clips that both play frequently and cannot be silenced
  • Dealing with onlookers that tell you how boring a game looks as you play it
  • Just about anything to do with motion controls or obscure niches

Embarrassing enough for you? If not, don’t worry about it. I just want to set up a useful frame of reference that can be revisited later. Moving on, let’s take a look at two games that the link above places its emphasis on – Lollipop Chainsaw and Code of Princess.  The first half gives us a good idea of what the “ashamed” part is about, but that can be set aside for a moment.  A fresh new set of questions will be useful to help illustrate my point waiting at the end of the tunnel.  Now, ask yourself:

  • Is it that the title is “Code of Princess” and not something more naturally English-sounding?
  • Is it that Lollipop Chainsaw is a 66 on Metacritic (at the time of this writing)?
  • Is it that CoP is too similar to Senran Kagura?
  • Is it that LP is just another game about zombies when zombies are supposed to be getting old and cliche now?
  • Is it that women aren’t expected to buy either because they’re both violent games?
  • Is it that both are from Japanese development houses?*

Do any of these help clue you in to the latest gaming press trend on what to be ashamed of?  I don’t quite think these questions are going to get us to that elusive source of shame, but at this point, a lot of options have been exhausted.  Now we can go to the last sentence of the article which asks:

“[…]is the concept tied only to games about cheerleaders and princesses?”

Well, there has to be some common thread between cheerleaders and princesses, right?  Otherwise, the shame in question would have very little weight and could be discarded.  So, are we ready for this?  Based on the clues given in the article, what is that common thread?

Women’s sexuality, or how the media tells us we’re supposed to see it anyway…

The shame that we are to be handwringing over is based solely in the idea that unless a popular depiction of a woman fits the feminist overlords’ agenda, we are to react with repulsion – not indifference, not amusement, and definitely not (male sexual) arousal, but repulsion.  Sex positivity never seems to show itself because it has no use for men that are attracted primarily to women.  Claims of gamers acting “entitled”, like with the Mass Effect 3 ending and Dark Souls on PC using GFWL, are either nowhere to be seen or moronically turned against men for not being duped into letting others co-opt their identity.  Even worse, as with the whole ruckus over the Hitman: Absolution and Tomb Raider reboot trailers, these rabble-rousings are the means by which ridiculous trailers are mistaken for how most men really see women, and quotes from developers taken as an infallibly accurate prediction on how players will identify with its characters.  The only reasonable takeway from this (given that men outnumber women in games and yet women in media seem to have little to say about finding some of those men attractive) is that if porn for men means sexy women, then porn for women means politically-motivated anger.  Both are being consumed in high amounts lately, as this media cycle makes clear.

*Remember earlier this year, when it seemed more game journalists were wondering if Japanese-developed games and the studios behind them would stay in decline?

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