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Vicarious Existence

To blog about what is going on in the MMO genre from a casual MMO player's viewpoint.

Author: UnSub

Comic-ly Tragic: Female Developers vs Male [strike]Gamers[/strike] Gaming Journalists

Posted by UnSub Monday November 19 2007 at 10:07PM
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A big story that sprang from small beginnings were the events surrounding a pornographic comic featuring Assassin's Creed producer Jade Redmond. It's a story that shows that there are still a huge number of barriers facing female developers in what is a male dominated industry and player base.

The first problem is that David Cheung created a comic featuring Jade Raymond doing some fairly compromising acts and degrading her to the status of bimbo-only-for-male-gratification. Such a reduction of ability to Ms Raymond is hardly fair, given that she appears to have an solid game development resume - The Sims Online, There and working for SOE in R&D - and also presents very well. This actually goes further than just her appearance - she is eloquent and can speak in front of crowds. Her role as a producer on Assassin's Creed has seen her do this several times, while she's also done a lot of interviews with gaming "journalists".

The second problem was Ubisoft sending a cease and desist letter to SomethingAwful.com (who thrive on this kind of thing) when someone posted the comic there. Legal threats to SA are like mana from heaven, especially when they come from geek sources like Ubisoft. Given that 1) the lawyers hit the wrong target in SA and not David Cheung and 2) they probably don't have a legal leg to stand on regarding the comic since it could probably be successfully defended as a tasteless satire (and if that defense worked for 2 LIve Crew, it will probably work for anyone who wants to spend the money against Ubisoft to defend it). All in all it means that the comic has legs it never would have originally.

The third problem is that apparently a whole lot of people seem to think this kind of thing is okay, that Ms Raymond is an available target for this kind of thing because ... well, she's pretty and has been used in promoting a video game she was working on. From everything I've read that has been attributed to Ms Raymond, she's been nothing but professional and well-spoken. Her attention has been on Assassin's Creed. The male game journalist, however, has been all about putting up photos of Ms Raymond and pseudo-stalking her, thus fuelling the fire. That Ubisoft might use a producer on their game to promote it isn't out of line; that gaming commentators have slobbered all over pictures of her is.

All in all, it just creates a hostile series of barriers for women who may wish to work in game development. That, regardless of the work they do, they will be judged on their appearance. That they could be reduced to being a sexual object displayed for mockery.  That you can't be contributing anything of value to the game you are working on because gaming development is what men do. And so on. It just leads to women having to fight harder to get any kind of respect - a fight that is made doubly harder when a lot of those who deride you are anonymous.

All this just leads to gaming being stuck in its adolescent boy niche, being focused on boobs and explosions. Women who could take up game development as a career may think of what happened to Jade Raymond and decide to go elsewhere because they don't want to have to deal with the boy's club that is the games industry. When this happens, it is gaming that misses out.

EDIT - On November 23, I changed the title to better reflect my opinion on this matter. It was the gaming journalists / commentators who really drove this matter so they deserve a lion's share of the blame.

Terranah writes:

The fact that a cartoonist exercises his first amendment right hardly justifies the title.  

Tue Nov 20 2007 1:21AM Report
Ronaruudo writes:

Jade Raymond had it coming. She wants to whore her own body image for her product, while there are way better women working on way better games.

Tue Nov 20 2007 8:05AM Report
Mequellios writes:

"a cartoonist exercises his first amendment right"
>What about Jade Raymonds rights?

I agree with the article. I think the developers along with the communities (and to extension, the world) needs to get a grip. The advertisment of women like this keeps them at the bottom of the barrel, fighting to retain equality.

But I'm done dwelling the problems of our screwed up world.

 

Tue Nov 20 2007 10:10AM Report
Hexxeity writes:

"The fact that a cartoonist exercises his first amendment right hardly justifies the title."

Does anyone else see the irony in this sentence?

Tue Nov 20 2007 11:30AM Report
Digna writes:

Whether Ms. Raymond did all of the work on Assassin's Creed or none of it, doesn't matter. Whether she received her position because of her looks, her ability or a combination of both, doesn't matter.

The comic was both tasteless and stupid. There is little to be done but if Ms. Raymond happens to read this post, don't take this comic personally. People don't remember truly awful things ten minutes after they are off the news. Just move on, enjoy life and be as happy at work (and home) as you can be. Hey...consider the source...right?

Tue Nov 20 2007 11:44AM Report
Mysk writes:

I saw the 'comic' and have to agree that it was about as tasteless as such things get.  That doesn't mean that I want it taken down as I think that our rights need to work both ways, but I can definitely see where it caused offense.

As for her whoring out her appearance to sell the game as another commenter said, I haven't ever seen revealing photos of her.  Perhaps I missed something?

She is an attractive woman who knows when & how to flash a nice smile, but that hardly qualifies as "whoring her looks".  That's going too far IMO.

Tue Nov 20 2007 12:26PM Report
soulwynd writes:

The comic was a joke. Distasteful, but good for a couple giggles and a head shake. Anyone who fights a joke only helps increase the joke. The image won't go away no matter what they do. International sites can host it just fine.

Now, claiming it hurts the gaming world or her reputation? That's as stupid as sending threat letters to SA. Who in his sane mine will take a comic seriously? It's similar to walking off a cliff to see if you're going to float and then blame it on cartoons. Only previously demented people would try that or take cartoons as 'the truth'™.

And for those of you who actually learned logic either in college or school, and had the patience to read my comment so far without freaking out and trying to stone my text, there's more.

Ubisoft, you should fire whoever triggered that half wit lawyer and thought before doing anything.

To Mr. David Anderson. You are a retard who may have learned law as your trade but never logic or sophism which are what win cases and people. That and bribes.You stupidly quoted the law you're trying to defend and forgot a very important point and I quote; "shall be liable for any damages sustained by the person or persons injured as a result thereof." Ms. Raymond could only be injured if Ubisoft fired her due to the image or it decreased sales. It is obvious a comic like that would never decrease sales, for any intelligent person knows it was a joke. If anything it would maybe catch the interest of some horny stupid kid and sell another box.

So, Mr. David Anderson, QED bitch.

Oh and if someone complains about degrading her image somehow, maybe they should think twice about how Ubisoft ended up whoring her face in interviews (and if you have more than half a brain, you would notice that's what the cartoon joked about). I've never ever seen that many video interviews about a game before.

Wed Nov 21 2007 8:38AM Report
UnSub writes:

Okay, I changed the title to better show my opinion on the matter. It's still pretty general, but not all male gamers deserve to be associated with this issue. The biggest amount of blame belongs to the gaming commentators who made much of Jade Raymond's attractiveness, wrote some borderline unsuitable things about her and then put the controversy into the open.

Ms Raymond did not 'deserve' this kind of thing just for being in the public eye and being associated with a game. She didn't 'ha[ve] it coming" for simply doing part of her job. And as for those "way better women working on way better games", well, they better not let anyone know they are there in case people think they "deserve" similar treatment.

Thu Nov 22 2007 7:42PM Report

MMORPG.com writes:
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