• Years Later And I’m Still In Shock: a moment in gaming

    by  • May 25, 2012 • People & Events • 4 Comments

    I’ve said before how I’m lucky to not have much first hand experience with sexism in gaming. That stands true, but the recent sexist art in games conversations reminded me of an experience I had at Gencon. I tend to tell the story as being funny and a little strange, but the truth is, I’m afraid that it’s an example of a type of person I don’t understand. And I’m afraid that type of person is everywhere.

    It was 6 or 7 years ago and I was GMing the game Artesia: Adventures in the Known World. The scenario I was running was an introduction to the world with a little magic, a little politics, and a little religion all introduced over the course of a mystery. I was also using a card draw from the world’s tarot, The Book of Dooms, as a story telling mechanic. The art in the game is beautiful and I wanted to spotlight that.

    A father and his 14-year-old son sat at my table. I had the game listed as for adults in the game catalog, so I talked with the dad a little bit. I wanted to be certain he was cool with his son playing. I mentioned the card draw, and how there was nudity on some of the cards.

    The dad responded, “As long as it’s not male nudity.”

    I was speechless. For a moment I thought he may be joking but his tone said otherwise. I didn’t know what to say, after all, there was male nudity on some of the cards. I very quickly decided to not mention the male nudity and just hope none of it turned up in play.

    The game went on to be great. I thought the 14-year-old kid was the best player at the table. Everyone was happy.

    Here it is, years later and I’m still in shock. That father appeared to feel that it was perfectly reasonable for women in game art to be naked and for men to not. And that it was perfectly reasonable for his son to see the naked women but not the men. That sort of thinking is not okay.



    A gamer for decades, a nerd for longer, and a woman forever.

    4 Responses to Years Later And I’m Still In Shock: a moment in gaming

    1. avatar
      May 25, 2012 at 16:13

      In a lot of areas and subcultures, men and boys are actively encouraged to be uncomfortable with male nudity.

      After all, if you’re not uncomfortable with male nudity, you might be comfortable with male nudity… and if you’re comfortable with male nudity, then you might be gay, horror of horrors.

      Perceived heterosexuality becomes a precious, fragile thing, easily threatened and easily lost. It becomes an “appearance of impropriety” thing.

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    2. avatar
      May 25, 2012 at 16:23

      That’s so strange. I hope your recent GenCon experiences have been better.

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    3. avatar
      May 27, 2012 at 13:02

      That really is strange and it does scream homophobia.
      I once took part in my hometown’s Gay Pride (as part of a BDSM group) and I wore an underbust corset without anything underneath. And I passed this woman with her little son. She seemed to be perfectly okay with him seeing lots of half- to almost fully naked men celebrating their sexuality. But when I came along, she quickly covered his eyes lest he see a pair of breasts. I never figured out what the problem was.

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    4. avatar
      May 31, 2012 at 19:10

      Aaah, fuck this mentality.

      Everyone should be able to look at the body, male or female, and appreciate what they’re seeing for what it is.

      In art and media, the naked body has a visual language all its own–and it can be an incredibly powerful one, at that. It can be about sex appeal, sure. Or it can also convey power, or on the flip side, vulnerability, or even something as simple as time and place. This is stuff that kids pick up on before they’re even aware of any sexual aspect to it.

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