Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby Alweth on Sat May 24, 2014 7:15 am

I have to say how I really appreciate how you've represented women in Desktop Dungeon, with the exception, that I already expressed some months ago, of how Desktop Dungeons falls into (along with huge swaths of other media, especially other video/computer games) the trope of portraying women as reskinned men. However, this post helps me appreciate that you were self-consciously trying to do better than the status quo while still knowing that you weren't going nail it perfectly.

Thanks!
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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby dislekcia on Sat May 24, 2014 10:31 pm

Alweth wrote:I have to say how I really appreciate how you've represented women in Desktop Dungeon, with the exception, that I already expressed some months ago, of how Desktop Dungeons falls into (along with huge swaths of other media, especially other video/computer games) the trope of portraying women as reskinned men.


I'm pretty sure the only argument that supports this view is that the male sprites were made first. One of the genders did indeed have to be made first, so we couldn't do anything about that. If female DD heroes were simply reskinned male heroes, they wouldn't have different names. There is a distinction, just not one that's relevant to gameplay. I don't really see how decrying that as a bad thing is fair.
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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby Alweth on Sun May 25, 2014 12:36 pm

dislekcia wrote:I'm pretty sure the only argument that supports this view is that the male sprites were made first. One of the genders did indeed have to be made first, so we couldn't do anything about that. If female DD heroes were simply reskinned male heroes, they wouldn't have different names. There is a distinction, just not one that's relevant to gameplay. I don't really see how decrying that as a bad thing is fair.


I concede it may not be fair to criticize Desktop Dungeons specifically over this fact. In that sense I approve of Desktop Dungeon's portrayal of women--admitting it's not (and probably will never anywhere in any game be) ideal but is generally an improvement.

However, I'm concerned with the gaming industries portrayal of women as "reskinned" (in a somewhat metaphorical sense) men. DD, falls into this too, and for understandable reasons. QCF are laudably trying to and somewhat succeeding at portraying women in a less sexist way in DD. It doesn't surprise me that DD falls into the industry trope of portraying women as men with different graphics/sound/names.* What confounded me is that QCF seemed to be deliberately doing this as part of its attempt to portray women in a less sexist manner.

If, on the other hand, it's simply a pragmatic compromise with what you were able to do, and/or the principle of "first, do no harm," I can understand that. I hope that makes sense.

*Note:
Now, someone might say, "Hey wait! It's sexist to assume that the women are a copy of the men rather than vis-versa!" That might make sense if we didn't have the entire history of fantasy, gaming, and the real world to look at, from which DD draws heavily.
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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby berpdreyfuss on Sun May 25, 2014 1:02 pm

I can't quite follow you. What would have to be different in DD to make the female hero not "reskinned"?
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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby Alweth on Mon May 26, 2014 8:44 am

berpdreyfuss wrote:I can't quite follow you. What would have to be different in DD to make the female hero not "reskinned"?


Well, that's the question, isn't it? If you ask different people they'll probably give you different ideas. I have some ideas of what could be done, but I don't know that they're good ideas. The reason for these two facts is the same: we haven't been trying it, so we don't know what works and therefore no consensus.

But my point was not that they should have done this or that specifically. I had previously understood QCF to be claiming that the fact that they only made cosmetic differences between the sexes was somehow a step ahead in non-sexist portrayal of women. What I had said was that that's what the gaming industry has generally done, for understandable reasons, and so while it might be an understandable move on QCF's part it's not in any way a non-sexist innovation. (In fact there are reasons to view it as another expression of industry sexist portrayal of women.) My point was that this post had helped me understand that while they deliberately chose how they portrayed women, they weren't claiming to be doing it perfectly or ideally.
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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby Sidestepper on Mon May 26, 2014 10:17 am

I'm not sure I completely follow your argument, but QCF has never claimed that their attempt was perfect or that they had somehow solved the problem of sexism. The most critical remarks about their engagement of gender have been from themselves, from the very beginning.

I had previously understood QCF to be claiming that the fact that they only made cosmetic differences between the sexes was somehow a step ahead in non-sexist portrayal of women. What I had said was that that's what the gaming industry has generally done, for understandable reasons


I disagree with this. Your standard action game shows women wearing chain mail bikini briefs and their dialogue is mostly them purring about how sexy they are (random example: Starcraft II had Kerrigan with permanent high-heel feet). Showing women in practical gear and portraying them as grizzled veterans is definitely a step ahead of the industry standard. This should be the baseline, and maybe that's your point, but it isn't the baseline, and that's my point.

As for women in DDT being men in disguise, I don't understand what you are saying. The women don't conceptualize or experience things differently from the men because none of the adventurers have opinions or personalities to begin with.
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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby dislekcia on Mon May 26, 2014 10:48 am

Alweth wrote:What I had said was that that's what the gaming industry has generally done, for understandable reasons, and so while it might be an understandable move on QCF's part it's not in any way a non-sexist innovation. (In fact there are reasons to view it as another expression of industry sexist portrayal of women.)


Sorry, but I don't understand this either. What we did was take a significant financial and development time hit in order to make the gender of any particular adventurer irrelevant. There is literally no sexual discrimination possible in DD, because adventurers are functionally identical - the whole point of random gender is to make it obvious to anyone that might have a problem with this that the actual problem lies in their own perceptions.

I'm really not sure where your argument is coming from, to me it sounds like you're saying that we should keep labels like "female doctor" around because somehow a doctor's gender is more important than their training. A Rogue or Paladin's abilities are what define them, can you imagine what it would have been like if we'd allowed gender differences? Firstly, that would have been twice as much design and balance work, then we would have had to allow gender selection, and finally we'd have had all sorts of gendered debates all over the forum as people complained that their preferred gender wasn't the "best" incarnation of a particular class or that gender X of class Y was too weak, etc. That doesn't feel progressive to me...

Futhermore, that blog post talks mostly about the problems we had with artistic representation. It took a lot of work to simply have women that weren't default sexually attractive/available, much more than we expected. Saying that it's a bad thing that female adventurers are copies of male adventurers because their looks are dictated by functional concerns doesn't make sense to me either. What should we have done otherwise? It's not like we didn't implement sexual dimorphism in species where it made sense - female orcs/halflings/gnomes/humans are very different to male orcs/halflings/gnomes/humans - we put in a lot of work to make that dimorphism display as wide range of appearances as we could (and we're still not 100% happy with the end result).

Yes, there are settings in which gender does present as noticeable differences, fighting monsters shouldn't be one of them. Now I suspect I'm not understanding you correctly, so could you try to provide more examples of what you're saying is standard industry sexism that DD did too?
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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby Lujo on Mon May 26, 2014 2:08 pm

I'm with Dislekcia here. Sexual dimorphism thanslated into game mechanics would be wrong on many levels.
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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby Darvin on Mon May 26, 2014 4:14 pm

Lujo wrote:I'm with Dislekcia here. Sexual dimorphism thanslated into game mechanics would be wrong on many levels.

In a game which focuses on social interaction and intrigue it would make perfect sense to have gameplay differences between genders. Desktop Dungeons is not such a game.
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Re: Female Representation in Desktop Dungeons

Postby Lujo on Mon May 26, 2014 6:36 pm

Darvin wrote:
Lujo wrote:I'm with Dislekcia here. Sexual dimorphism thanslated into game mechanics would be wrong on many levels.

In a game which focuses on social interaction and intrigue it would make perfect sense to have gameplay differences between genders. Desktop Dungeons is not such a game.


Yes, that is what I ment. This is to clarify as not to diverge from the topic. My brevity in the post is 50% of my message, for those who know me, and they can also read quite a bit more from the post as well.
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