Sex and Video Games

body_sm_ratios1On Reddit today, there was a game designer asking if his female character was sexy, but not so sexy that it was conforming to the usual female game design stereotype….  So it got me thinking.

“Sexy” is subjective. What you find sexy I might not find sexy. And what is sexy by one regions definitions will not be the same in another.

For instance, this character has the mandatory large breasts, hour glass figure, and swaying hips that western society deems “sexy”. If you go to Japan, or Brazil it won’t be the same standard. They don’t have the same stereotypical “sexy” idea of women that we do in the west.

Now, is it still perpetuating the stereotype of video games? I don’t think so, because she isn’t half naked and her figure actually has a natural curvy form, while still being close to realistic, though not quiet.

Now.. as a woman I find the whole discussion to be trivial in general. “You’re painting women as sex objects” … No, they are painting them as caricatures of the “sexy woman”. That is to say, grossly out of proportion, gravity defying, and completely unrealistic. Some of them ape superhero proportions, but many of them don’t even bother with that. If that is a man’s idea of an ideal woman then he is in for a sad awakening when he goes looking for a real one.

Advertising has done far more to paint woman as sex objects than video games ever have, and yet fem-libers will shout far louder about a woman in impractical armor in a video game then they will about the anorexic looking fashion models, and half naked women in commercials and magazines with photoshopped bodies.

A character in a video game ISN’T REAL! It isn’t even close. It doesn’t paint an idealistic picture of a woman, it paints a fake, unattainable in any circumstances woman. What’s more, it doesn’t just do this for the women, it does this for the men as well.

Women who get all irritated about video game avatars are clearly not versed in gaming and comic book culture, nor do they know anything about the historical trend of art. Both men and women were painted, drawn, sculpted, and shown in the idealized versions of the time and place they originated, and/or caricatures of those ideals. It only sometimes has something to do with sex, other times it’s just something “pretty” to look at, or commentating on society as a whole.

And if they are versed in art history, then why the hell are they so argumentative about the whole thing? Why aren’t they using it as discussion instead of just saying “DON’T DO THAT!”

Superheros are a mans power fantasy? So because I’m female I’m not allowed to have the same fantasy? I want to fantasize that I’m the sexy muscular woman with all the power under my sword, able to slice through dragons, orcs and trolls with one swing of my sword. That’s my power fantasy!

Just because you are offended at something THAT DOESN’T MAKE IT WRONG! Stop fucking up life for the rest of us just because you got your panties in a twist. Let me have my fantasy for one fricking minute, and just enjoy being beautiful, strong, and capable, even though I’m not in real life.

And really, isn’t that what a video game is all about in the first place?

Self Publishing – $1500?

I’ve been following Joanna Penn since she appeared on “The Self Publishing Podcast“. She’s a very interesting, thoughtful, and educated woman. She’s got her stuff together, and her books are pretty good too.

She often links to interesting articles about writing and publishing on her twitter and facebook. That is where I get a lot of my “This week in publishing” links.

Today she linked to “How Self Published Books are Made Start to Finish“.

The first thing I notice is a list of “things you should have” and one entry:

  • Money to invest in said book. I wouldn’t start this without $1,500 in the bank marked ‘I can lose this’

Who can afford to just mark $1,500 dollars as “I can lose this”?

Okay, I understand her reasoning. There are editors, book cover designers, marketing, print books, advertising… Ya, there are a LOT of things that go into writing, publishing, and selling your books. Even if you go with a simple cover design that you put together you probably need to buy a licenses for the art work, unless you have some art skills.

But… $1500?

I’ve got 8 books out now. I’ve spent a total of $400. All of that went to editing one book, “Osiren’s Tears“. Granted, I wasn’t completely satisfied with the the editing. It seemed rushed, and I know someone who could have done a better job for a little more money, but he wasn’t available then.

Editing is worth the investment. Some day, I hope, I will make enough to have everything I have already put up re-edited, and then re-published as a new, better edition. But I’m on a budget, and my budget does not include $1500 to blow.

The nice thing about going indie in ANY industry (movies, music, writing, theater, art…) is that you can invest what you have. You can outsource, barter, scrimp, save, and adjust.

Here is what you really must have for self-publishing:

  • An idea
  • Time
  • Patience
  • Persistence
  • A plan
  • A finished manuscript
  • The ability to take criticism
  • An edit
  • A cover
  • More patience
  • The willingness to ask questions.

Only two of those things might cost you some actual hard earned money, and there are ways to get around that too. Got a friend who is an artist? Suggest a trade. You’ll do something for them (babysit, cook, clean, wash their car) if they design a cover for you. Got a group of friends that like to read? Will they be your beta readers and give you some good feedback on cleaning up your prose? Writers workshops are free, and often help a lot.

Another wonderful part about indie industry is that there are a lot of people doing the same thing, and willing to help out in many ways. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, ask for help, look for tutorials on youtube, read a how to book, and ASK QUESTIONS!

Now, granted, just throwing your book up on amazon will not bring a lot of sales to you. That’s where marketing, and word of mouth comes in. But if your book is good, interesting, and well written, and you put yourself out there where people will see you, then you have a good chance of getting some readers.

Then the trick is to start the whole process over again. The more you publish, the more noticeable you will be. This is true even for really bad writing. There are some terrible books out there with awful covers, and horrible grammar. But they keep producing, and there are people who read their stuff. Go figure.

Point being… you can produce a book for the low cost of ZERO dollars. Doesn’t mean it will be good, or sell, but you can do it. 

And if it is good, or just pretty good, and you get some sales, then maybe you can start saving up for that $1500, and a proper release of a bigger project later.