A 12 year-old studies the weird cost of playing as a girl

Did anyone guess (a)? Systemic discrimination means you don’t have to personally hate a group to discriminate against them.


Yes most of this thread is suggesting that developers are pricing their games to tax female players

I think those two scenarios are basically the same. The idea is to make people pay, and that this in practice “just happens to appear” sexist does not make it excusable.

This development philosophy in the games industry is also based upon deception. By making games appear to be less costly to the consumer than they really are. Instead of paying $20 for a complete game, you can pay $5 for the stripped-down game and then pay lots more for extra content. If it was really saving customers money, they wouldn’t be doing it.

My solution has been to only buy games which allow for user-created content. They have lively communities of user-made avatars, maps, game modes, etc. For Half-Life I have access to thousands of free maps, many of which are better than the ones I paid for with the game. This is part of the lameness of phone development - the locked-down nature actively discourages user-creation. There are deep problems of technological lock-in as reduction of choice as well as those of real sexist and genderist problems.

Word, I love me some half-life too.

Market driven pricing is far different than sexist discrimination. It just so happens that everyone wants to be a “girl”. The people who pay are the ones making theses shitty pay to upgrade games possible.

Which says a lot about the spittle-flecked invective aimed at Sarkeesian both before and after she made her first few videos.


I hope her findings sparks a fire in her belly and she becomes a game developer making games with the type of charters she would like to play.

Oh, that’s very interesting. Maybe I just missed it because of my poor reading comprehension. That being the case, surely you could provide a few examples for my elucidation?

Saying that “it’s the market” is an evasion of responsibility. The market IS people, not a force of nature or the supernatural. It’s people hiding behind an organization that they themselves made. And if it “just happens” to discriminate against categories of people who are legally protected against other forms of discrimination doesn’t suggest that it’s ok. What if “the market” decides it’s ok to pay women less in the workplace? Or that people prefer wait staff with green skin instead of blue skin? We can call the underlying process whatever we choose, but I think it’s obvious that those who cause this to happen do have control over this, it’s a choice.


Sorry red harring we aren’t talking about employers, we are talking about vendors. If you dont like their products dont buy them.

A game that charges you more if you are female is dscrimination.

A game that charges everyone the same for different “upgrades” is not.

What if we take gender out of it?

Lets say this game is free to play if you want to be a dog, but if you want to de a cat it cost you $. Is this oppressing cat lovers?

I’ll get my best people right on it, in the meantime consider if there’s any way to include a little more snark and a little less substance in your reply. That way my simple masochistic mind can understand your flowery language.

It’s not necessarily so different. If I disagree with how employers do business, I don’t deal with them. A problem which can occur in either place is that of how much information is available to base our decisions on ahead of time. Are there ways for a prospective customer to browse what DLC is available before they buy the game, and a breakdown of the pricing? Another thing I would want to know is how common this practice is. If it leaves people the option of making informed choices and picking something better could well be fine. But if it’s so pervasive that it’s actually difficult to find games which aren’t compromised like this, then the ability to choose won’t go very far.

Deciding what options they will offer is a process of discrimination. They have limited time, money, resources, and demand - so they can’t offer everything - they need to pick and choose. Which leads to questions of what their criteria are for these choices.

The difference is that cats and dogs aren’t quite legally protected categories of discrimination. (they kind of are, with regards to animal rights, but that’s a different topic). Also, dogs and cats come in male and female models as well, even if most humans can’t tell the difference without lifting the tail. But I agree with you that avatars can look like anything. Playing with a non-human avatar doesn’t bother me, I’ve done it.

So, if avatars can look like anything, why are so many of them modelled after humans? An obvious answer might be that people prefer to play with an avatar they can identify with. And deciding that a player should pay up to be able to, in some sense, be able to “play as themselves” is in poor taste. Sorry young lady, you can’t be yourself because some horny guy wants to pay extra to look at female butt. What if they dragged their feet in offering black avatars and charged extra to penalize the customer, so they might not need to bother with it next time? Can they do this? They can, but they shouldn’t be surprised if people say something about it.

Ugh, we probably taste nasty anyway.

Or, when you are not doing quantitative analysis, but are saying “here are examples of stereotypes from several top-selling video games” (a qualitative analysis), it’s a meaningless criticism that is just a red herring at its core.

[Edited to delete a bunch of needlessly confrontational stuff.]

Yeah, I was being a jerk. You were wrong when you said that this thread was full of people suggesting that videogame designers had it in for women (as opposed to pricing things in a way that sucked for women without intent having it in for women). The record of that is here for everyone to read if they care to. I shouldn’t have hostile about it.

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It’s ok, I still love you. I misspoke.

The real evil is pay to upgrade games in general. But I think we should let people price their products however they want, even if it feels icky. We as a community should not contribute to their pay model. Support games with vibrant communitys of mod makers. Learn how to make your own skin.

Well, I don’t know what it would mean to not let them price their products how they want, other than to just decide not to buy them. I do agree that the whole model is very problematic.

[I’m going to go on a bit here, not directed at anyone in particular]

Ultimately I’m not even sure it’s market forces or malice that drives the cost of female avatars, though. If they were always going to give you one “default” character, then obviously the default character is going to be a white man. In the minds of the makers of the game, that might be what default person looks like.

I think it’s quite possible that the people who made Temple Run in the first place just weren’t thinking about who the audience for the game would be, but rather were thinking about how to make a good game. They made the protagonist a white man because they modeled him after Indiana Jones. The game originally cost $0.99 and only switched to freemium after it became popular and there weren’t even any skins to buy, as I understand.

Which, interestingly brings us back to @gweb’s point that Temple Run: Brave has a default female protagonist. Clearly, whatever the developers of the original game were thinking, by 2012 they knew that their audience was an audience that sense of cross-promotion with a Disney princess (and Disney thought so too).

But when they made Temple Run 2, they used the same characters as Temple Run, so Indiana Jones knockoff as the default, once again.

I don’t think there is anything close to nefarious here, it’s just that “we all know” that adventurous explorers who steal golden idols from tombs are white, male archaeology professors, right? It’s insidious rather than malicious. (In the interests of brevity(?!?), I will not say anything about Lara Croft)

Obviously the question is what to do about it, and I definitely think that one solution is to not prop up this predatory business model (the discrimination seen here is just one little bit of what is wrong with a lot of “free-to-play” games).

But the other thing to do is to listen to this 12-year-old girl who has noticed something that just feels rotten. And that rotten feeling exists independently of the story we can tell ourselves about how it came to be. This is a tiny little corner of the general daily shit that women and minorities deal with. The shittiness is real and impacts people, even if there is a perfectly reasonable explanation that doesn’t involve anyone being mean. At some point, instead of asking who is to blame, we need to work together and clean that shit up.


What the hell internet? Apologies and backing down? What kind of online community is this, a community?


Hahaha, context does matter. I’m sure I’ve said it before, too, although I think I probably use it only when I’m trying to be snarky.

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It wasn’t a conversation. You seem to be perfectly okay with men explaining to women that they don’t need to wear makeup, as if we don’t already know. BTW, I don’t disagree with a lot of what else you’re saying here. But your needlessly condensing reply to me earlier was in support of blatant sexism. You might want to examine that.

I assure you: We women know about the expected gender norms we face every day and we do not, in fact, need men to explain them to us. And you’re still lecturing me about this! Stop it.


as an aside, i am a dude that wears a small amount of makeup (my face is dry and likes to fall off). as i alluded to in a previous comment i find products targeted to women more comfortable, higher prices, but likely because they are better. at least when it comes to razors and face products, the stuff targeting men is (like i mentioned) similar to an angle grinder :slight_smile:

in any event there shouldn’t be a gender tax, but i will take my wifes products over any mens products any day of the week.

obviously that doesn’t absolve any of the other issues discussed here, but for the narrow view that has be mentioned i think it boils down to a quality issue.