A Game of Hormones

While I do not doubt that there are women in the world who read books like Mr. Martin’s, I can honestly say that I have never met a single woman who has stood up in indignation at her book club and refused to read the latest from Lorrie Moore unless everyone agreed to “The Hobbit” first. “Game of Thrones” is boy fiction patronizingly turned out to reach the population’s other half.

I realise this is mostly a gaming blog, but I felt it was probably worth dropping in a quick comment about female geeks. Both me and Spinks are female, and you may have guessed that geekiness runs proudly in our blood. As children we asked for the original D&D boxset to play with our other sister, and we’ve been playing tabletop and computer RPGs ever since. We read sci-fi and fantasy along with more ‘mainstream’ fiction, but honestly, for me the SF fiction IS mainstream, it’s what my friends read, it’s what I enjoy most. We read comics, we understand the tech we use, we love gadgets as much as any of our male friends. And – we both LOVED the Song of Ice and Fire series and are very excited about the forthcoming HBO adaptation of ‘A Game of Thrones’ (starting on sunday 17th in the US and monday 18th in the UK).

The above quotation is a clip from the New York Times preview of the show, written by a woman. It’s quickly becoming infamous, as women around the internet step up to rubbish its claims. It’s worth a read purely because it’s a really bad piece of journalism. Not because the comments about women offend me, but because it makes so few comments  about characterisation, storyline, style – all the things I might want to know about a TV show that’s new. Instead, it comments about the sexual shenanigans and the genre – clearly one the writer doesn’t enjoy one bit. Even in reference to the sex on the show, she writes:

The true perversion, though, is the sense you get that all of this illicitness has been tossed in as a little something for the ladies, out of a justifiable fear, perhaps, that no woman alive would watch otherwise.

Yeah, I watch shows for the sex scenes, I really do. Especially while my husband can enjoy all the politics, violence and swordplay. What am I looking forward to about the show, for that matter? Well, seeing the deep and rich characters from the books brought to life with sumptuous settings and HBO financing. I’ve read the books, my husband hasn’t, as it happens. We’re going to see how differently we react to the TV show while watching it together. I do love fantasy books, he tends to prefer hard science fiction. But when I recommend ‘A Game of Thrones’ to people (and remember I work in a library so I get to do this a fair bit), it’s because it’s not all swords and sorcery – it’s got incredibly complex characters and storylines, politics plays more of a role than magic and there are NO ELVES (yet!). It’s fantasy but written more like a historical novel (a genre of books that, by the way, seems to appeal to women as much as to men from my basic observations at work). And I think because of all the intrigue and the fantastic setting, it fits really well within the HBO remit that includes True Blood, The Sopranos, Rome and The Wire. In fact, I think it relates more to Rome than to True Blood, if it comes down to it.

The article has received many better responses than I could ever give. Here’s a selection of my favourites:

Reading them gives me hope!

Play Dante’s Inferno if you like assaulting booth babes

edited to add: mashable.com points out that this stupid PR stunt has spawned its own hashtag so you can watch people’s reactions to it in real time by checking #eafail.

edited again to add: EA have now issued an apology for the Sin to Win contest. But at least we had a good laugh out of it first.

Thanks to Pete@Dragonchasers for wising me up on twitter last night to EA’s latest brilliant publicity stunt.

They’re running a promotion for Dante’s Inferno at Comicon this year where you have to commit ‘Acts of Lust’ with booth babes. Before I got round to pondering the sexist side of this, I was wondering if that was even legal.

Is there no anti-harassment protection in US employment law? Is prostitition legal in California? Would a contract specifying that the booth babe must allow herself to be sexually assaulted even be valid? Or is EA setting itself up for some nice lawsuits if any fans go too far and booth babes end up taking them to court? I’m sure they are usually hired as models, and even dancers in lap dancing clubs don’t usually let punters touch them up (without some kind of extra charge).

Coming hot on the heels of their ‘clever’ (as in: everyone who heard about it thought ‘that’s stupid’) stunt at E3 which involved the fake Christian extremist rally, I’m wondering which of their potential target audiences they plan to insult next.

Anyhow they are clearly going for shock PR tactics with this game, and it seems to be garnering them a lot of attention. Whether it will translate into sales we’ll have to see.

I will however  forgive them everything if they decide to highlight the deadly sin of Wrath at GenCon and someone punches out an EA executive.

In which I have a golden ticket. And are bunny ears sexist?

spinks with bunny ears I logged into WoW late the other night because I wanted to touch base with a friend (I knew she’d been a bit down), so we settled down to collect eggs while chatting. I take back slightly what I said about Noblegarden, it’s still dumb but at least it doesn’t require much in the way of actual thought.

I also hadn’t realised how annoying a starter area full of tiny rabbits could be until I saw them all zipping around and stealing my eggs!

There must be some primal human instinct that says when you see something small and fluffy speeding away, you want to go and stomp on it. Or maybe that’s just me?

Duly encouraged by the rest of my guild, I submitted a ticket:

I am a warrior of the horde in full platemail. Surely I ought to be able to crush little bunnies under my booted feet, but it doesn’t seem to work when I try. Is this some kind of a bug?

I got a form letter back later advising me to post it in the suggestions forum. Very witty.
Have you ever posted a silly ticket? Or been tempted to?

More on the Bunny Ears

You can see Mrs Spinks looking like the fearsome warrior of the Horde that she is in the picture above. If that doesn’t destroy an enemy’s will to live, I don’t know what will.

But the bunny ears and the associated achievement have been quite controversial. This is because the achievement requires you to stick bunny ears on female characters over level 18. (Bunny girl? Get it? No, I didn’t laugh either.)

When I first saw the achievement lists for Noblegarden, I eyed that one and thought ‘Ah yes, casual sexism,’ but I can’t really bring myself to get up in arms about it. I prefer to pick my fights. But I can understand why people aren’t thrilled with the idea.

The ladies (and gents?) at Feministing have worked up a decent rant on the subject though. While I think the achievement itself is puerile and Blizzard should fucking quit with the Playboy jokes, I don’t have a vast amount of sympathy for the female player who was complaining about being chased around. I remember being hunted during the Valentine event because Spinks is an undead warrior and people wanted to throw petals at her. And that was nothing at all to do with her in-game gender.

People enjoy the holiday achievements where you get to play scavenger hunt with other players. I like them too. They aren’t grindy, it gets people to interact with others without killing them and if you don’t like the rabbit ears you can always just click off the buff.

I personally think that achievement would have been a lot more fun if when you put bunny ears on someone, you had a 10% chance to get stunned for 3 minutes and had your PvP flag set. Then if a female character with bunny ears killed you during this period, they could get the achievement, “That Rabbit is Dynamite!!!”
Now that’s the sort of achievement I could really get behind.