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Posts with tag feminism

Mike Morhaime apologizes for lack of diversity in Blizzard games

It's been a bad year or so for women in Blizzard games, for a lot of reasons. At BlizzCon, Warlords of Draenor was described as a "boy's trip" that Aggra wasn't invited to -- which fits with the Warlords marketing material that shows almost exclusively male characters (a few women appear in the trailer and one in the art, but they're unnamed). But Warlords isn't the only concern: the company's April Fool's joke came off as tone-deaf to many, Heroes of the Storm uses female characters as eye candy (which game director Dustin Browder argued didn't send a message), and, recently, Rob Pardo stated in a talk at MIT that diversity wasn't really a value for the company.

Though Warlords has come a long way since BlizzCon and both Browder and Pardo apologized, the fact that any of these things were an issue in the first place is off-putting -- at best -- to female gamers. Even long-term Blizzard fans have started to wonder why they're continuing to play in a gaming world that didn't accept women amongst the cast of heroes. It's from this place of disappointment that Starcunning wrote to Mike Morhaime, explaining why she's walked away from Blizzard's games. The surprise, however, is that Mike Morhaime responded stressing Blizzard's commitment to listening to the playerbase and building games that are fun for everyone.
Mike Morhaime
We are very conscious of the issues you raise and are discussing them more than ever, at every level of the company, in an effort to make sure our games and stories are as epic and inclusive as possible. Blizzard's employees form a broad and diverse group that cares deeply about the experiences we are creating for our players. And we know that actions speak louder than words, so we are challenging ourselves to draw from more diverse voices within and outside of the company and create more diverse heroes and content. We are also actively looking at our story development and other processes to ensure that our values are fully represented. We've always believed that positive, lasting change comes from examination, discussion, and iteration, and this applies as much to story as to gameplay. There is no reason why inclusivity should come at the expense of an amazing game experience.

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Filed under: Blizzard, News items

Hearthstone tournament now open to all

Yesterday we reported about the oddity of a Hearthstone tournament that didn't allow women to compete. The reason? The International e-Sports Federation wanted gaming to be recognized as a "true sport," and was following the professional sports model of gender division. With fewer women competitors than men, this led to tournaments with a large selection of gaming events for men, but few for women -- in the case of this tournament, Hearthstone, Dota 2, and Ultra Street Fighter IV were all men-only events.

While e-Sports are often gender-divided (competitive StarCraft is notable in this regard), the idea of a men-only Hearthstone tournament was apparently the straw that broke the camel's back. Among many others, Blizzard spoke out against IeSF policy, telling VentureBeat, "One of our goals with e-sports is to ensure that there's a vibrant and also inclusive community around our games. We do not allow the use of our games in tournaments that do not support this, and are working with our partners to ensure they share the same goal."

The end result is that the IeSF has reversed the policy, and offers events open to all genders as well as women-only events to encourage the participation of women in the male-dominated field of pro gaming. It's a setup that's similar to the competitive chess scene, which has both a World Chess Championship in which anyone can compete and a Women's World Chess Championship. Now, at the 6th e-Sports World Championship BAKU 2014, men and women will be able to compete together in StarCraft 2 and Hearthstone tournaments, while there's also a women's only StarCraft 2 tournament. Time to get your game on!

Filed under: News items, Hearthstone Insider

Hearthstone tournament bans female competitors

No girls are allowed to compete in Finland's Assembly Summer 2014 Dota 2, Ultra Street Fighter IV, and Hearthstone tournaments, which are open to men only. According to the International e-Sports Federation's rules, the genders of competitors in e-sports are separated to help the competition be recognized as a "true sport." In response to complaints, the IeSF posted the following on their Facebook page: "The decision to divide male and female competitions was made in accordance with international sports authorities, as part of our effort to promote e-Sports as a legitimate sports."

And while this means separate but equal style treatment for some events, for others -- like Hearthstone -- it means women simply can't compete at all. At Assembly Summer 2014, women aren't allowed into these tournaments because if they won, they wouldn't be allowed into the IeSF men-only world finals. Markus Koskivirta, head admin of the Assembly Summer 2014 Hearthstone IeSF Qualifier, speaking to PC Gamer, said that the Finnish eSports Federation is lobbying for equal rights for male and female gamers... but with the long and strange tradition of segregated e-sports (StarCraft competition often has such divisions), that could be a long time coming.

Though the IeSF says it wants to promote female gamers by hosting women's only events, the end result of this is to keep women on the outskirts of pro gaming by relegating their participation to smaller events and smaller stages. All this goes towards suggesting that women aren't good enough to compete with the men -- something that in an all-digital "sport" is difficult, at best, to justify.

We all love the same games, so why can't we play them together?

Filed under: News items

Why is Blizzard still OK with gender inequality in World of Warcraft?

Editor's Note: Comments on this post have now been disabled. It's getting late and we'd like to let our comment moderators get some sleep tonight.

In most games I play, from World of Warcraft to Star Wars: The Old Republic, I make an effort to play mainly female characters. Unlike other males who play female characters, this isn't for cosmetic reasons; I'm not one of those dudes who can't bear to stare at his male character's butt for multiple hours a day. (How this is ever an argument that makes sense to people, I don't know.) This was a conscious decision on my part a few years ago, when I started to become aware of the discrimination faced by female characters.

See, when you make the decision to make a female character, you're intentionally and unintentionally signing up for a number of things. First, you are intentionally signing up to play a female character. This could be because you identify as female, because you prefer the look of female characters, or any number of other reasons (including the butt one). What you're unintentionally signing up for goes further.

You're unintentionally signing up for jokes made at your expense in a raid, like when my priest hit 85 and did BH in leveling gear, and my low HPS was mocked because I was a girl playing WoW. You're unintentionally signing up for harassment, for the catcalls and people begging you to talk in Vent, like you're a rare species of bird they'll only be able to hear once. You're unintentionally signing up to be victimized by other players because you dared roll something other than male at level 1, and you didn't know there'd be consequences for that choice.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Mists of Pandaria

Noblegarden: Sexy or Sexist?


We are nearing the end of Noblegarden, but haven't discussed here at WoW Insider the most controversial part of the event: Shake your Bunny-Maker. For this achievement, you have to put bunny ears on one female of each race that is over Level 18.

Before we go any farther in this discussion, I would like to state that I am female. Not that I am speaking for all females (no one can), but I think that it is important that you know where I am coming from. I also have a young daughter and would like the world to be a better place for her, as all parents do. It is also worth noting that the title for this post was inspired by one of my favorite movies: This is Spinal Tap. The band wants to release an album called Smell the Glove with a cover of a naked woman who is leashed and is forced to smell a glove. The lead singer mistakes the word "sexist" for "sexy". Hilarity ensues.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Events, Virtual selves, Achievements

All the World's a Stage: If looks could kill

All the World's a Stage is a column for inquisitive minds, playing with roles every Sunday evening.

The media usually portrays WoW as a "boy's game." That's not to say girls don't play too, of course -- just that the game is basically about qualities such as aggressiveness and violence, and our culture expects males to be interested in that sort of thing.

Whether such a designation is true or not, the "masculine equals violent" stereotype is very pervasive, and it is natural for many male players to begin the game with a powerful and intimidating character in mind. The player may imagine that his avatar is warm and kind-hearted inside, but outwardly, his character looks as though he could rip out your throat with a flick of his pinky finger.

But there are many men out there who don't like such exaggerated manliness in their characters, just as there are many women who don't want their character to look like a dainty barbie doll. Being a person isn't just about just one gender attribute, after all. Indeed, female characters in WoW can achieve a full range of human attributes in their appearance; they can look friendly and intelligent, yet lightning quick and deadly at the same time. However, the appearance of male characters is often so filled to the brim with "strength and honor" that there's not much room left for any other human quality.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, RP, All the World's a Stage (Roleplaying)

Girls That Play Games: Redux

Browsing the Warcraft forums this afternoon, I ran across a post advertising a WoW Gurls, a new forum for female Warcraft players.  The response it's getting ("a/s/l plz" and "300 cooking is a prerequisite") does not surprise me, considering the venue, but it's still sort of disappointing.  Another poster pointed out a more established forum, Women of Warcraft.  While these forums theoretically provide a safe haven for female gamers to come together and talk shop, it sometimes seems that the establishment of a site for women merely attracts and encourages all of the typical forum trolls.  Is this behavior simply to be expected when you mention women to Warcraft's target demographic?

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves

Girls That Play Games

There's a interesting article on the Play Girlz blog discussing women who play Warcraft, and some of the treatment they face.  They link back to a survey that has collected comments from female gamers, which range from interesting to unusual to disturbing.  Being that I have recently taken to playing characters that are not in my raiding guild in order to avoid some of the more juvenile antics of my fellow (and overwhelmingly male) players, I can certainly understand where the author is coming from when she points out the following:

Many people play games so they can get away from “real life” but when this fantasy that is supposed to be fun starts sounding so much like what you’re trying to get away from in the first place, it’s hard to ignore.

[Thanks, Keegan]

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves

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