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Posts with tag sexism

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

The joke is on women in Blizzard's April Fool's gag

Though Blizzard doesn't always treat female characters with as much respect as I'd like, where big game companies are concerned they usually do okay -- heck, the fact that you can play a female character at all puts them ahead of a lot of the gaming industry. But Blizzard doesn't have a particularly spotless record, with sexist NPCs, more sexist NPCs, sexual dimorphism, the lack of women in game lore, and the fact that Aggra won't be heading to Draenor in Warlords -- not to mention the fact that Chris Metzen described the journey as "more of a boy's trip" at BlizzCon. The fact that Blizzard does all of this and I still think of them as doing okay speaks to the exceedingly low standards women have where it comes to inclusion in video games.

And in today's April Fool's gag, the joke's on us with the new female draenei models. Today's draenei are the most sexually dimorphic of the lot, with male models that are extremely muscled and female models that are slender -- but still heavy on the cleavage (seriously, they must have so many back problems). Releasing this so-called ugly draenei model as a joke -- though it might have been intended to poke fun at the gamers who insist on sexualized game characters -- just says outright that any women who aren't the height of perfect beauty are a joke.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

Ji Firepaw's beta dialog gets a rewrite

Image
Folks closely following the Mists of Pandaria beta may recall that Ji Firepaw had some problematic interactions with player characters. Without getting too deep into the controversy, Ji praised male characters for their strength but praised female characters for their appearance.

Sharp-eyed Alewen reports that interaction has been changed. Ji now simply greets characters by saying, "You seem poised and ready. I can tell we are going to be good friends." This means Ji is no longer concerned about physical attractiveness; Ji remarks only on all characters' readiness for battle.

Filed under: News items, Mists of Pandaria

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

Drama Mamas: Sexist jerk or personality conflict?

Drama Mamas Lisa Poisso and Robin Torres are experienced gamers and real-life mamas -- and just as we don't want our precious babies to be the ones kicking and wailing on the floor of the checkout lane next to the candy, neither do we want you to become known as That Guy on your realm.

Lisa and I had different reactions to this week's letter, which is always more fun than when we agree -- don't you think?
Dear Mamas,

My husband and I hopped servers in November and joined a new raiding guild. We were really unhappy with our old server and have found the new one quite wonderful. We thoroughly enjoy our new guild and have been with them for a number of months. We progress with a light raid schedule, doing heroics and keeping a 25 man raiding guild alive. Unfortunately there is one member who has made things quite inhospitable. I'll refer to him as X. X came in on a server transfer, someone the officers and long standing guild members had known and played with for a while. Coming in I thought he was a great player, did everything his class was supposed to do. Then he spoke. And wrote. And trolled our forums. And the more he spoke the more he got under my skin. Mainly the constant bashing of women in general, but also of the women in our guild.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Drama Mamas

GLAAD fights homophobia in online communities like WoW

We've talked here on the site before about this issue -- the anonymity in online communities like World of Warcraft often leads to people throwing out offensive statements that they usually wouldn't in normal company. Most people shrug these off as just what happens in online games ("kids will be kids, and idiots will be idiots"), but this type of undercurrent behavior still signifies and perpetuates prejudices and hatreds that affect society at large.

The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) has recently started up a campaign to try and stamp out hatred and homophobia in communities like World of Warcraft, and they've published an op-ed on exactly why this is such a problem and what we can do to stop it. They don't mention WoW specifically, but we're one of the biggest online communities out there, and if nothing else, here's a chance to show just how tolerant we as a community can be.

The good news is that as the practice of online gaming grows, both players and policymakers are becoming more and more aware of the problem -- Microsoft met earlier this year with representatives from GLAAD to determine how better to combat offensive statements on Xbox Live, and the organization held a panel recently to discuss exactly this issue.

Thanks, Joshua!

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Fan stuff, Virtual selves, News items

Racism in arena names

I think there are few things more disturbing in the modern world than ill-conceived notions of racial, religious, and sexual divisions. For some reason parts of humanity continue to believe that just because one group or another looks and/or acts differently, they are bad. One of the reasons I enjoy WoW and just games in general is because it allows us to escape the problems this world gives to us, even if only for a few hours a week.

Unfortunately, some people find it necessary to bring their attitudes in game. We've covered some of this before, from border-line inappropriate arena names to sexism in WoW. However while playing an arena game recently fellow writer Amanda Dean came up against a team named "Rosa Parks Stole My Seat," and this name is possibly the most offensive one I've seen. Rosa Parks (for those of you who need a history lesson) refused to go to the back of a bus because of her skin color and continued to sit in the white only section of the bus, despite being told to do otherwise. She represented a key moment in the history of civil rights.

There are 65 arena teams with this racist name.

When Amanda ran into one of the teams she reported it via a GM ticket.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, News items, PvP, Arena

New TCG wallpaper is putrid, but in a sexy way


Blizzard has released a new wallpaper featuring exquisite artwork from the "Mias the Putrid" card from the WoW TCG. The work is just as fantastic as it was with previous TCG-themed work -- maybe even better. Well, nothing is gonna beat the Stefen Colbear thing, but still. It's fabulous.

I say it's "putrid, but in a sexy way" with tongue in cheek, of course. This evil Mias lady is half-naked. She's in chain-slave-bondage. Oh, and ... I'm not one of those guys who has all the cup sizes memorized, but I'm pretty sure that proportionally this is on the higher end. No, I'm not gushing; I actually have a point! WoW Insider has talked about sexism in WoW before, but usually we've focused on the actions and words of some male players, and not so much on things like the art style of the game or the TCG. I'm not making a judgment here; I'm just pondering.

See, when I saw this new image, I thought of a conversation I had with a friend of mine a couple weeks ago. She long since quit WoW, but she said that as a female gamer it's always a little frustrating when many of the female characters are half-naked elf-slaves with huge breasts. What a standard! But then, doesn't WoW's art style exaggerate the male characters' muscles and such, too? Ah, well. It's food for thought. Type up your two cents if you want. Or just download the wallpaper.

Filed under: News items, Fan art, WoW TCG

Opening a dialog about sexism in World of Warcraft

Perhaps one of the biggest challenges of being a gamer girl is learning to deal with rampant sexism, without becoming defensive. Just like racism, sexism should not be tolerated, but how do you address it without making the problem worse? Smurphy from Burning Blade brought this up in the forums. Nethaera's response was to shut the thread down before a dialog could really begin on the subject.

Although the majority of WoW players are men, there are a number or women who do enjoy the game. Women are often important contributing members of guilds and raids. Perhaps a little known fact about gamer girls is many of us don't like to be hit on or given special favors like spots in raids. Nor do we like to be called honey, baby, or sweetie by complete strangers. We would very much like the same treatment given to our male counterparts. Women do truly enjoy the game, and should be able to feel safe and comfortable in the online environment.

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Filed under: Analysis / Opinion, Virtual selves, Blizzard, Forums

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