Microsoft’s “Rape Joke” Flub and Feminism (from a female gamer’s perspective)

In the wake of the Tosh O rape joke scandal, Microsoft goes and flubs their shit during a game demonstration at a Microsoft Xbox one event.  I provided the link, but the general gist of things was a game banter gone wrong kinda deal that came out disgusting and offending a lot of people for it’s tastelessness and what some see as blaze’ reference to rape.

“I can’t even block correctly, and you’re too fast,” she says.

“Here we go. Just let it happen. It’ll be over soon,” he says.

The audience laughs at the remark that many have been interpreted as a rape joke. The banter continues between the two, further adding fuel to the allegations that the joke mimicked a sexual assault scenario.

“You have a fight stick,” she says.

“Wow, you like those,” he says.

“No, I don’t like this,” she says.

I didn’t actually hear about this until a gamer friend of mine, with whom I regularly have “debates,” asked me what I thought of the whole thing.  Even though we are very like-minded, it seems our conversations always take on tangentially adversarial note.  As if we agree, but not exactly.

My initial take on what I read about the “rape joke” was judging from the info in this link, was that it was intended to be normal, harmless gamer banter.  If you’re a gamer, you know how we like our trash talk!   That said, considering how damn sensitive everybody is about everything, it was not something that should be done “on stage” as it were. The first comment was fairly ambiguous, but the following comments made the situation worse, and added additional sexual connotations. The fact that Microsoft claimed the “banter” was unscripted and they were aiming for “friendly game-play banter”, but used two employees (who are not improv actors) to give said unscripted banter strikes me as a rookie mistake for a big company to make.

My gamer buddy, we’ll call him *Leon Kennedy, had this to say:

Well what bugs me about this is that it’s normal gamer trash talk. I’ve said stuff like that to guys I was beating and heard the same when they were beating me. Hell you know how we get playing Resident Evil.

His point brought me to an important idea…something I’ve noticed before in other aspects of my life as well.  Well, yes it is normal trash talk, but why is it that trash talk almost always seems to have sexual connotations?   Especially in an industry still rife with sexism (Anita Sarkeesian, anyone?), in a world that has become super-sensitive (sometimes to a fault) but very vocal, one would think Microsoft should know better.  SOMEONE is gonna get their panties in a bunch over SOMETHING.  (See what I did there? 🙂 )

And yet, the fact that all our trash talk is still geared overtly or subtly to sexual domination or gender stereotypes says something, doesn’t it?  Maybe it’s because I hung around with a lot of guys when I was younger, or maybe it’s because I have always struggled to be strong, independent, take no bullshit, not girly girl… but I have caught myself making misogynistic remarks too, in the form of banter.  For instance, when hearing about some of my husband’s co-workers or “friends,” and their bad behavior, I have been known to tell him they were acting like “whiny bitches,” or ask him if they had “sand in their vaginas.”  I know, terrible, isn’t it?  But it seems like this aspect of gender stereotyping is, to an extent, so ingrained in our culture that I don’t even take offense to it in the traditional sense.  I’ll admit, the fact that this is the case is probably indicative of further need for a shift in attitudes in this country… I’m just not sure what to do about it, because railing against “the man” or the status quo over it seems to me, a largely futile pursuit.  At least, to it’s not worth the aggravation it would cause me.

Edit: Leon adds:

I think this Microsoft thing brings up so many issues.  If he was playing with a guy no one would have blinked. If we are supposed to be equal than we have to be equal. It can’t be equal until its inconvenient.

This statement also struck a chord with me, because it ties into role of feminism in my life lately.  And it’s not what you might think.  If anything, I am apparently not enough of a feminist for some people, I mean, to the point where I am losing friends…which is ironic to me.

Have you seen any of the photos from the “I Need Feminism Because…” project?

Well, I came up with my own, and I don’t even know if it’s really relevant to the Microsoft thing, but it certainly applies to the concept of feminism in my life.  It also applies to other aspects of social equality and humanity that one would think are a given, but for some reason are not… like for instance, the right for gays to marry.

I NEED FEMINISM BECAUSE:  there are still some “feminists” who believe that I’m “not enough of a feminist” because I am a Stay At Home Mom.

Consider that a hyperbole if you will.  It generalizes to mean basically this: Having the “right” to do something does not mean you have an “obligation” to do it.

Basically, equal rights is not about following a prescribed set of behavior “because you can/should,” it’s about having choices to begin with.  

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Resident Evil: The “Oh Shit” Factor

Hubby have I have great discussions, which just proves our chemistry is still there.  Yet another discussion about the direction of the Resident Evil game franchise… sexy, right? We’re both pretty much in agreement that although the newer, more action oriented gaming style of RE4, 5, and 6 is pretty cool, with the over-the-shoulder first person shooter point of view bringing you closer to the action, we both miss the atmosphere of the first few games in the series.  Especially if you played the remastered Game Cube version with the added content, you’d likely agree none of the subsequent games in the series can match the mystery and creepiness of feeling completely alone and small in that vast mansion.  As hubby and I discussed (again) the points in which the “new” games differ from the older ones in the series, that led to a discussion about the creatures of Resident Evil, and how the newer RE games seemed to rely more on the “gross-out factor,” rather than actual scariness.  

This segued into which creatures in the franchise had the “oh, shit” factor–that being, no matter what weapon you have in your hand, the presense of these particular creatures have the power to make you (or your character, rather) run the other way, keening

                             oh shit, oh shit, oh shit, ohshitohshitohshitohshit!

under your breath the whole way.  Hubby finds my reaction to these characters a ceaseless source of amusement.  He makes fun of me, and I laugh.  That’s the kind of relationship we have.

Here are a couple of my favorite/most hated Resident Evil baddies.

The Zombie Dobermans–

Admittedly, as the games keep getting revamped and the graphics keep getting better, the newer incarnations of the Resident Evil zombie dogs (“Ganado” dogs, or “Majini” dogs, or “J’avo” dogs) should be scarier than the originals… but they’re not.   The best I can figure is that it’s the selection of weapons and ammo you have access to…or rather, the lack thereof.  In the newer first person RE (4,5, & 6) games, you have access to weapons that are varied and up-gradable.  Rifles, Magnums, high-powered pistols, grenade launchers, laser rifles, mine dart throwers…  But in the original RE game, until you accidentally stumbled on the locations where the grenade launcher or magnum were stashed, all you had was a pistol and a shotgun. They had a limited range of motion, due in part to third person perspective, and, unless you were particularly judicious in your use of it, very little ammo.

When you heard the tell-tale clicking of little doggy feet, (or worse, they jumped through the window and surprised your ass, usually in a pack) you knew there was a good chance you were gonna die.  You could try to stand and fight, or you could haul ass in the other direction.  Personally, unless I had a grenade launcher or a shit-load of shotgun ammo, I hauled ass.  Cuz those little fuckers are hard to hit, and it seems to take a whole bunch of pistol shots to put one of those dogs down!

Does somebody want a Scooby Snack?

Does somebody want a Scooby Snack?

RE 5 "Adjule" dog

RE 5 “Adjule” dog

RE 4 "Colmillos" dog

RE 4 “Colmillos” dog

The Chainsaw “Guy”

There are several incarnations of  this particular adversary, and they appear in both RE 4 and RE5. There is the ganado man with the burlap sack over his face, and there are a few spots in the game where you encounter one or more of what I refer to colloquially as “chainsaw bitches.”  The latter are women with bandaged faces and homicidal tendencies.  Both are aggressive, quick, and both mean instant death if they get close enough to decapitate you.  When I hear the tell-tale sound of the chainsaw or the shriek of those harpy bitches, I run the other way… at least far enough so I safely can plug them with my Magnum and thus keep my head attached to my neck.

A chainsaw and a bad attitude...

A chainsaw and a bad attitude…

The first time I was decapitated, I was in shock for a few minutes afterwards.  It's not the kind of thing you forget.

The first time I was decapitated, I was in shock for a few minutes afterwards. It’s not the kind of thing you forget.

The Iron Maiden–

sub-species of the Regenerator from RE 4, the Iron Maiden is creepy as shit.  The tell-tale sound of its approach is a sort of mouth-breathing version of lamaze.  It sounds funny, but this dude is a creep.  He’s covered in spikes and if you give him half a chance, he’ll project his spikes out like some sort of deformed humanoid porcupine, and try to impale you on them.

Part of the problem with a Regenerator is that it’s a pain in the ass to kill.  As you may have intuited, if you shoot one, especially in the limbs, it generally recovers fairly quickly.   The trick to putting down a Regenerator is to kill the multiple parasites living within it’s body.  For this you need a special infrared rifle scope that allows you to see the Plagas hidden in the creature’s body.  It follows that you need the time and distance to use said rifle, and since there are usually four to five Plagas in a given Regenerator, when I hear them coming, I back the hell up!

Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden

Come 'ere and gimme a hug!

“Come ‘ere and gimme a hug!”

I got your hug right here, bitch!

“I got your hug right here, bitch!”

Well, there are several more scary and anxiety provoking enemies in the RE franchise, but these are the main ones that come to mind when I think of the “oh shit” factor.  My policy with these guys is usually run first, then shoot!

What are your favorite RE characters to hate?

“This is Bat Country!”

Been back on a Fishdom kick lately.  You know, that game where you match little  shapes, the object of which is to clear each level. In some of the Fishdom games, if you connect a certain number of like shapes, you get a “power-up” in the form of a bomb that blasts away all shapes in a given radius.  I played the game for a while many months ago, until I basically got all played out on it, and just recently picked the game back up again, as a nice addicting little diversion.

And now every time I close my eyes I feel like I’m in a Hunter S. Thompson book or something.  Not, not really.  Actually, my first irrational thought was that I had somehow spent so much time camped out in front of my little Netbook screen that the game images were burned into my corneas.  Because when I close my eyes or blink, or walk into a dark room, I see crabs.  Little blue crabs.  And sometimes anchors or cornucopias.    I see them in a sort of bright black, negative image, like the floaters you might see from staring at a bright light or the sun.

Eek! I’ve got crabs!

So I did what any self-respecting quasi-hypochondriac would do…  I Googled it.   And it turns out what I’m experiencing is not an unheard of phenomenon.  It even has a name.  The Tetris Effect.

People who play Tetris for a prolonged amount of time may then find themselves thinking about ways different shapes in the real world can fit together, such as the boxes on a supermarket shelf or the buildings on a street.  In this sense, the Tetris effect is a form of habit. They might also dream about falling Tetris shapes when drifting off to sleep or see images of falling Tetris shapes at the edges of their visual fields or when they close their eyes.

The Tetris effect can occur with other video games, with any prolonged visual task (such as classifying cells on microscope slides, weeding, picking or sorting fruit, flipping burgers, driving long distances, or playing board games such as chess or go.)

source: Wikipedia

Mentioned in the Wikipedia entry for Tetris Effect was another related concept called Game Transfer Phenomenon, where residual thoughts, feelings, or impulses remain after playing a video game.  I have experienced this phenomenon first-hand, with no small measure of amusement, I assure you.  When I see movement in the tree branches in my periphery and my first impulse is to shoot at it with my non-existent sniper rifle, part of me wonders if I shouldn’t be glad I don’t actually have a rifle.

Anyhoo… while I was reading and assimilating all these interesting new tidbits of useless knowledge, I did not happen to see any information to indicate when I could expect to close my eyes and not see little crabs.  And I still can’t decide whether or not I should be annoyed by this.  Hmm…