Monday, 30 September 2013

Engaging in a Larger Online Discourse

I apologise for going on a tangent and not talking about my travels to Japan but this is an issue that's close to my heart and I feel is important and relevant to myself, the people around me and my community at large. Also this will be VERY long (especially if you include all the videos) so feel free to skim or not read at all :)

As well as being a woman, bilingual, bisexual, anime fan, cosplayer, avid book reader, sci-fi/fantasy fan, lover of films and comics, I am also a gamer. Out of all these identities (and others, as we all have many identities) I do not identify myself as a feminist (although some people might think or classify me as one). I simply believe in equality, trying to the best of my ability to stop injustices, and that if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all! Critiquing is fine, but just being nasty for the sake of being nasty doesn't make sense to me. (The last one's not a popular belief online). And due to the fact that I am a gamer and I do believe in equality and the right to critic I've become quite interested in the larger online debate surrounding Anita Sarkeesian and her videos Troupe vs Women in video games.

Many people in the gaming and general online community will have heard about her so I won't repeat what everyone knows. (If you don't know what this is all about just click here)

Last week I came across the video "Do Video Games Need Anita Sarkeesian's Feminism?"

I loved this video so much that I put it on my facebook to share with my friends. One in particular loved it so much she put it on her facebook. The response that she got from her friends (in the US) compared to my own (in the UK) was surprising to say the least. One in particular was very negative saying:

Guy: "Sarkeesian is a liar. She acts like shes this video game expert but in reality she knows nothing. She acts like theres some sort of conspiracy against women in gaming and overly exaggerates the way woman are treated in games and fails to realize that there are more video games with positive female protagonists than she realizes. this guy says that everyone should be free to express there ideas but unfortunately Anita disables the comments section and rating system. This guy is an idiot!"

This began a very, very, very long discussion which I feel is important for people to see (and I will post it at the bottom if I can if people do want to read it). But for now I will sum it up.

This person's (who we shall call Guy) arguments were as follows:
  • Anita Sarkeesian is a liar (based on this video)
  • She is not a real gamer (based on the fact that she is a liar based on that video)
  • She has no experience in the subject she is talking about
  • She and other femenists are forcing their views on the industry 
  • They (Anita and feminists) do not belong in the gaming community
  • Feminists who claim to be harassed are just responding to opposing opinions
  • Anita is not a true critic because she disabled her youtube comments
  • There does need to be more female protagonists in games
  • There are already a large number of games with women, and who are not sexualised
  • Masoganistic games like GTAV shouldn't be taken seriously because they are a satire of society
  • There is sexism in the gaming industry
  • Sexualisation of women in games does not perpetrate rape, abuse or sexual harassment

    He also posted these videos to back his opinion (make of them what you will): 

His comments and arguments got me very angry. Although I agree with a few of his point that there needs to be more female protagonists, and there are games with women protagonists already (although I would argue these are very few and often not well known ones), I did not agree with most of what he was saying.

I decided to engage back. But my arguments fell on deaf ears and we essentially went around in circles.

My counter arguments:
  • Anita might have told a class of University students and her lecturer that she did not play games because she wanted to be respected. I myself have done the exact same thing, hiding one identity to gain more respect in the academic and professional world.
  • Lying about one identity in a certain social situation does not make that identity invalid.
  • She has proved again and again in her videos and on her site that she has the experience to talk about this.
  • She is not forcing her ideas on anyway, she is simply criticising the image of women in many (not all but many) games as a whole.
  • Who can say who has the "right" to be in a community or not? (The irony of this one is that this defence of 'them vs us' is addressed in the original video I posted Why Gamers Need Anita)
  • Anita disabled her comments due to the 24/7 abuse and harassment she received (as shown in this video)
  • There is not a lot of funding that goes into games with female protagonists due to the belief they won't sell as well as male driven ones (as argued by penny-arcade)

Our conversation then spilled over into a one-on-one discourse between myself and him on my friends facebook wall (which she was fine with because her Masters is based on the perceptions on gender in games so this was perfect for her research). At this point I was no longer angry, just amazed and bemused by this person's point of view. I had never come across anyone like him in person before and found his beliefs quite baffling. 

Our one-on-one discussion began today with this video where a man calmly breaks down MrRepzion's arguments slating Anita, and discusses why they are wrong. (MrRepzion's videos are the ones Guy mostly used to back his point of view). Our discussion, as I said, went in a bit of a circle with us both re-instating our views and arguments that I listed above.

I made the statement that Anita's videos were relevant because women are abused every day in the gaming community (as proved by Anita's own experience of abuse and others)

This was Guy's response:
"And women every day are abused by men in the video game world", I find that completely hilarious. I dare you to go out of your relatively comfortable life as an American citizen and go to an Islamic country where woman are truly abused. You along with most modern feminists need to stop trying to point your fingers at video games and look at the real problems facing society. But of course you don't want to look at the real problems and continue to bitch and moan about video games because its much easier to do than to go out of your way to actually help." 

So apparently criticising something or someone and engaging in a larger online discourse is "bitching and moaning" and that means we are not addressing "real problems" in the world. Because of course the issues Anita is discussing are not "real issues", and that the abuse women get for playing games or speaking out is not a "real issue".

Sunday, 29 September 2013

Motivation - Improve Yourself

I'm planning to post about my business trip to Japan (which I just got back from) but first I wanted to ramble on a bit about motivation. I know we've all had times when we've wanted to do something but we haven't done it. We've gone "I'm going to do this for at least 30mins every day and it's going to be amazing". But we don't. And the more we don't do it the more we like not doing it because we feel like we suck.

I've gone through that many a times with Japanese but I've noticed a lot of my friends are going through this same issue too lately. And it's important because with everyone (including myself) its to do with something that we love, to better ourselves in the area we love and to hopefully succeed in that area as more than just a hobby. Success isn't going to just fall on our laps, we need to work for it, no matter how long that takes.

I'll use a random/fictional example. A friend wants to become an author. (I believe you can do anything you set your mind to.) But she has no experienced or published works. So she plans to write 1000 words a day. Of anything, and upload them online for critic to improve her writing and then eventually enter them into competitions and editorials and publishers when she has a novel. She feels motivated and does it for 2 days. On the third day she feels like she's quite busy and can get it done in the evening. But she doesn't feel like writing then. Well if she writes 2000 words tomorrow then that'll make up for it. Ah so now she HAS to write 2000 words which is so much! Ok, then I'll just do it tomorrow and then another 2000 words the following day. Oh but I'm going out with friends tomorrow.....etc. etc. etc. And she looses all motivation. Suddenly a week, month, year has passed with no writing being done and she feels guilty and horrible and hates herself. And all in all doesn't want to write.

It's great to have dreams and to push yourself to want to achieve that dream, but when you are your hardest critic you will burn yourself out. And you won't enjoy what you love to/need to do. (Yes you can even love the things you need to do)

I've found a few things help get yourself back on track:
1. Don't worry! What's the point in worrying? It will only stress you out.
2. Don't make up for lost time. Trying to compensate for missed days/deadlines will only stress you out more. Just accept that it's happened and carry on the next day.
3. Do it in the morning. No matter what make time in the morning to do what you plan to do. Morning is good because a) you get it out of the way, b) you feel like you've done something productive, c) you can adjust morning times easily, d) you're more awake and focused compared to the evening when you want to spend all your time on the internet.

I don't always follow my own rules. This last week when I was away I did no Japanese study and now my anki flashcards are all up to 100 reviews ;_; BUT I will keep working on them because the 2 weeks before the trip I did a TINY bit everyday and found that I had improved a lot even after only 2 weeks! This motivates me to do more. I guess it's like quitting smoking but instead trying to take up a good habit rather than a bad one. It's hard to start, but once you get going you find you become more motivated.

Oh I forgot one thing:

4. Enjoy what you do! Even if you knock yourself down and make yourself feel like poop for not doing this for so long (me with violin), just let that go, do it and try to enjoy it! This is something you've been wanting to do, wanting to improve at for some reason or another. It shouldn't have to be a chore so don't make it one otherwise you'll never enjoy it.

(I wish all of my friends the best and want them to know that myself and others are there for them. It's often hard when you're unmotivated, and even harder to admit that you're having a hard time. I love the friends that have admitted it to me and I really try to push them to help themselves. Everyone has people that can help push, but you are ultimately the one that needs to do what you do need to do.)

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Ram-blings (jewellery for sheep)

When I was young I imagined age as a line of white numbers in the dark that you could see from different perspectives. 10 was seen from the top to the left looking down, and 18 was from underneath to the right looking up. I could never imagine an age beyond 18 even though I knew that people were older than 18. I remember starting college at 16 and thinking that it was weird because it felt like college was still supposed to be so far away and that University was even further. Then I was at Uni and planning my year in Japan which felt impossibly far away, and I never even imagined graduating. And now I've graduated... It's been over a year since I graduated Uni and I'm starting my first ever job. I actually cannot believe it.

I had a plan when I started my final year of Uni because I knew graduating without one would be stupid. I decided to focus on Japanese because turns out Anthropology is shite unless you want to be an anthropologist or a spy. So I planned the trip earlier this year so that I'd pass the N1. Ok that didn't happen but I got the N2 and once again I forward planned and got a job! Wait...a job? I never imagined getting a job. I never imagined life beyond Japan this year. I hadn't planned months in advance how exactly it would work out and right now I am just riding the waves hoping my little boat doesn't capsize. And as Ingrid Michaelson says "Eyes on the prize and I can't capsize this time because there's somebody else in my boat".

So yes. I am suddenly 24 with a wonderful boyfriend and a brand new job. Jumping in the deep end and seeing where things go. I can't exactly plan things out from here but I'm hoping it all works out. As my mum says "cross that bridge when you get to it".

Tuesday, 10 September 2013

The Start of My Career in Japan!

I mentioned in a previous post that I was in the interview process with an American company who were after someone to work for them in Japan. Well long story short I GOT IT! \o/ After coming back from Japan I stayed for a few weeks in the UK before going out to Detroit (where they're based) to meet them. They are the nicest, hard working, down to earthiest company I've ever met! I am so lucky to be working with them.

What will my job be? Well I will be translator/project co-ordinator/company liaison for the American company working in Tokyo with their Japanese customers Isuzu. So I'll be their face, working for the American company but in the Isuzu offices.

Well work's not quite started yet, there is still a LOT to do. I'm going to Japan on the 23rd-29th September to join two of the American employees on a business trip and to meet the employees at Isuzu. Then I'll be back to the UK to finish sorting out my affairs before going to Detroit for a month or so for training. And then it's off to Japan permanently probably around January 2014!

As I said before it's an amazing opportunity for someone like me and I am incredibly excited but also incredibly anxious. It's a big thing going away to actually work in a country where it's not your native language. But I'm not going to let that stop me!