Sexist game-world balance
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Scandum



Joined: 13 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 3:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Greggen wrote:
If a woman plays your game, wants to play the gender she most associates with, and wants to compete -- she can't. She'll probably just get trounced by the first guy she comes across. Not fun if you ask me.

While it's possible what you say it's more likely that male vs female pkill will be frowned down upon.

Quote:
You say that women have problems competing, but why not let them if they want to? With your system, you're making descisions on behalf of the player.

Every system makes decisions on behalf of the player. Women can still fairly compete against eachother, just like on the olympics.

Quote:
Why not just give the option of being on equal terms?

I wasn't aware there is an option between 'equal' and 'equal'. No matter how hard you try, man and woman are different, and even an egalitarian design doesn't change that one bit. Sometimes I even get the impression that women are afraid to be 'female'.

If I could join a club where I can play chess against more gifted opponents while everyone claims that the game is fair, equal, and that I'm given any opportunity to "compete" I'd simply quit going to that club.

Quote:
What might be an interesting compromise, just as one example, is saying that if you want to play a strong character you have to have big muscles. Those who want warrior females can have them (and their huge, masculine muscles), and those who want to play it sweet n' twee can sacrifice a little strength and get all the social benefits.

Look at my club example, it wouldn't change a damned thing.
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Tyche



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 3:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Not only does this discussion apply to sex but race, class, profession, social status, rank, talents, flaws, starting gold or whatever list of choices you present a prospective character.

Balance is not everything unless your game is strictly a PvP contest. Warcraft, Genocide, Age of Empires, etal.
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Sandi



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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
And is really that often that you catch men openly ogling women?
You just don't realise how how often you've been busted! Wink [/quote]
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Greggen



Joined: 16 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 5:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Every system makes decisions on behalf of the player.


Not needlessly they don't.

Quote:
Women can still fairly compete against eachother, just like on the olympics.


But this is a computer game. There are no physical barriers here, so why put them in artificially? To use your analogy, it's like saying "You're a woman, so you only get 5 chess pieces".

Quote:
No matter how hard you try, man and woman are different


I'm all in favour of differences, but I don't think players should be punished for their gender preference.

Quote:
If I could join a club where I can play chess against more gifted opponents while everyone claims that the game is fair, equal, and that I'm given any opportunity to "compete" I'd simply quit going to that club.


You're using the same board and the same pieces -- it is fair and equal. If you are beaten it is because your opponent is more skilled than you. I never said you shouldn't be able to choose your opponent.

Quote:
Not only does this discussion apply to sex but race, class, profession, social status, rank, talents, flaws, starting gold or whatever list of choices you present a prospective character.


True, but I think gender carries more weight. Women are more likely to play women, and men are more likely to play men and slutty women. If one is at an obvious disadvantage, it's going to be less fun for players (IMNSHO).
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Lindahl



Joined: 29 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 01, 2005 9:33 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just catching up on the topic here... in TCP we are aiming to avoid any social-political issues, so we've chosen to make males and females equal from a statistical standpoint (not from a social standpoint). The plan is also to have a balanced set of cultures - at least to some degree. Most cultures will sway one way or another very slightly and we make no effort to balance the minutely-different cultures. However, for every overly-dominant male society, there will be one for the female (we only plan on having one of each at this point).

Quote:
Assuming that the Female PC's are attractive. And is really that often that you catch men openly ogling women? In a group of men probably.


Very much depends on the culture. When my wife and I were in Seattle, she didn't get nearly as much oogling as she does down here in Southern California. From what I've seen, it comes from the close integration of Latin society which tends to be more openly sexual - especially in males. I'm sure I won't get much disagreement on that.

Overall, I think whether or not you decide to have statistical deviance depends on how political you want to be. If you want to appease all, then have no real difference. If you'd rather have more difference between the genders comprimising the playerbase (albeit slightly), then add the differences in. However, being realistic just to be realistic is pointless for your typical MUD, IMO - you might as well get rid of the variety of races (they don't exist anymore than gender equality does). If you want variety, I think there are better ways to add it in, that way you can just sidestep the whole political issue, a win-win situation.
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Namir



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 3:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

LMFAO.

Smile Ya'll are silly.

As far as strength is concerned: Males are inherently strongly in upper-body strength ONLY. That means, they have stronger necks, backs, shoulders, and arms. Females, on the other hand, are actually quite strong in the legs and abdomen (despite having smaller muscle masses in those areas), and can easily equal or exceed strength in those areas in comparison with males. The reason for this is almost purely hormonal -- in fact, it is reccommended that women concentrate on leg exercise for the purpose of maintaining chemical homeostasis in the body.

As far as intelligence is concerned: Males are inherently stronger in "left brain" functions. This includes spatial abilities and abstract mathematic principles. Females, by contract, are noticeably stronger (generally) in "right brain" functions, particularly language skills.

As far as senses are concerned: Most females have very slightly stronger senses, most notably the sense of smell.

Pathfinding: Males and females are fairly 'equal' at pathfinding. The difference comes in the way the brain functions to DO the pathfinding. Males will tend to use exact distances and measurements (three miles due west, then turn north), whereas females are typically landmarkers, and determine their location according to slight differences in terrain (make a right at the flower shop).

Drive: Males and females are fairly equal when it comes to 'drive', or motivation. However, because males are usually faster and stronger, they can subdue females more easily. Likewise, females like to do things more.... 'sneakily.' They pay far more attention to detail. A male who wants to kill someone will do it in the messiest way possible; a female will typically do it in an untraceable or 'quiet' way.

Statistics with suicide rates:
Females attempt suicide more than males.
Males succeed at suicide more than females.

The reason, psychologically, is that a man is just going to do it. Gun, rope, whatever.. it's quick, it's done. A woman will typically turn to overdosing or slower methods, and either fail or are caught before they can do their business.

It's important to remember that the entire Earth has never been entirely male-dominant. There have been, and still are, cultures on Earth that are FEMALE dominant. We are simply not familiar with them, most of us being descendants of a 'developed' culture (Western, European, or Asian).
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Spazmatic



Joined: 18 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 4:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Males are inherently stronger in "left brain" functions. This includes spatial abilities and abstract mathematic principles. Females, by contract, are noticeably stronger (generally) in "right brain" functions, particularly language skills.


Inherently. Hah. Funny.

Please point me towards who was stupid enough to make this assertion.
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Namir



Joined: 23 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 5:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go rooting through psychology and neurology journals in your local library.
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Kelson



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 7:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

How about you post some recent studies showing those 'inherent' differences. I'm not saying there aren't differences, but by and large I attribute those differences to cultural norms than genetic dipositions. By this argument, men are generally stronger in society because there is an expectation that they will be (on the flip side, women are discouraged from participating in strength-oriented behaviors). Women are inundated with expectations to focus on drama and fashion (men, quite the opposite...plenty of insults in that direction, although now we mostly accept metrosexuals).

There have been many societies in the past where men were not dominant (as you indicated). Many where men were not the primary warrior/hunters. Many where they were not the primary decision makers. Some where they were the primary baby-raisers. Likewise the flip side for female roles. We see what we want to see (and that comes from what society tells us to see normally). We used to believe women couldn't operate complex machinery, but studies consistently show women out perform males in complex activities (when they don't expect themselves to fail just for being female, that is). Also, I think many criminal psychologists will disagree with your assessment of male vs female murder methods.

- Kelson
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Namir



Joined: 23 Nov 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 8:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There have been studies of the learning abilities with males and females, but, I am not going to go looking for them to post them. Smile But yeah, that part of my post should be taken with a grain of salt (as I am recalling it from memory, from a report I did two years ago), and I am not a psychologist.

I study biology, instead. Very Happy So, I do stand by my physical-oriented commentary.


Getting back to sexism in development, I would discourage differentiating between the sexes in code. As a female, I typically play female characters, and I typically play warriors. I do not want to be at a disadvantage with other players in my favorite class just because I'm missing a copy of the Y chromosome. Restricting me to just playing with/against other female characters would be a HUGE turn off -- for one, whenever I log into a MUD, there is usually three dudes for every dudette. I'd never have anyone to play with. For another, I'm not all that interested in runnin' with a guy who wants to play a female character just so he can fantasize.

Just remember, you were all females once.
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arrowhen



Joined: 19 Oct 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's unrealistic for a mud to allow female characters to be just as strong as male characters.

It's also unrealistic that you can be stabbed in the guts with a spear thirty or forty times without going into shock. It's unrealistic that wounds never become infected. It's unrealistic that nobody ever catches colds or suffers from allergies. It's unrealistic that you can routinely take a dozen t-bone steaks out of your backpack and eat them one after another (each in a single bite, no less) without ever having to go to the bathroom. It's unrealistic that nobody ever needs to get a haircut. It's unrealistic that putting on a pair of fancy boots makes you faster, or putting on a funny hat makes you better at math. It's unrealistic that you never really need to sleep.

It amazes me that in the face of these and countless other breaches of realism, "Hey, why can that girl bench-press as much as I can?" would be the one glaring exception to the natural order of things--in a game where you can kill dragons with lightning bolts that shoot out of your fingers--that one would feel must be changed for the good of the game.

I mean, why stop there? If you're so concerned with accurately modeling the biological differences between the sexes, why not code menstrual cycles for female characters? And what about the males? Many experts believe that all men will eventually develop prostate cancer, provided they live long enough. Surely the startling lack of prostate cancer snippets is evidence of a profound disregard for realism on the part of the mud community.

Realism should be a tool, not a goal. A game should incorporate enough realism to make it fun and challenging, and to preserve suspension of disbelief. Adding realism solely for the sake of realism doesn't make a game any better.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kelson wrote:
There have been many societies in the past where men were not dominant (as you indicated). Many where men were not the primary warrior/hunters.


I suppose that would be another way to handle it - choose your culture/society, and have that determine gender-specific attributes and modifiers.

Namir wrote:
Getting back to sexism in development, I would discourage differentiating between the sexes in code.


What if your mud has a historical or mythological setting? Do you think it should be possible to play a male amazon, or a female monk, even if such choices break the consistancy of the theme? Should male virgins be able to tame unicorns as well?

What if the mud is based on popular fiction - should a Forgotten Realms mud allow male priests of Lloth? Should a Wheel of Time mud set before the birth of Rand allow male Aes Sedai?

Namir wrote:
As a female, I typically play female characters, and I typically play warriors.


And as a human, I typically play human characters, and I typically play warriors. But I wouldn't discourage differentiating between the races in code. Instead, I would simply want a human to be equally as viable as a fighting character - slower than an elf perhaps, but tougher; weaker than an ogre, but smarter; not as resilient as a dwarf, but more agile.

I don't think that this is any different - it's just another aspect of the game design. Muds have traditionally treated gender as cosmetic fluff which has absolutely no impact on the game, but try applying that same logic to things like classes and races and you'd have people laughing at your game design.

Why is this? It is just a preconception we've formed over many years of playing muds which use the same approach?
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KaVir



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

arrowhen wrote:
It amazes me that in the face of these and countless other breaches of realism, "Hey, why can that girl bench-press as much as I can?" would be the one glaring exception to the natural order of things--in a game where you can kill dragons with lightning bolts that shoot out of your fingers--that one would feel must be changed for the good of the game.


There's a huge difference between 'internally consistent' realism and 'real-world' realism. Dragons and lightning bolts may well be 'realistic' within the defined reality of the gameworld. Other aspects of realism (eating, sleeping, toiletry, etc) could also be treated as behind-the-scenes.

Let me give you an example. If I'm reading a typical fantasy novel and it describes a dragon flying down from the sky, that's fine - its consistent with the theme. If the author never describes the characters going to the toilet, that's fine - I don't automatically think "Wow, the people in this world have got HUGE bladders". But if one of the characters suddenly pulls out a 200-foot-long plastic chainsaw, straps a nuke to his forehead, and starts quoting Shakespeare, it's going to ruin the immersion of the story.

arrowhen wrote:
I mean, why stop there?


It is not possible to have a game which is 100% internally consistent. This leaves you with two choices: (1) do the best you can, or (2) don't bother even trying.

Considering the number of people who complain about having smurfs and guns in medieval muds, I'd say that most serious mud developers fall into the first category.

arrowhen wrote:
Adding realism solely for the sake of realism doesn't make a game any better.


Avoiding realism solely for the sake of avoiding it doesn't make a game any better, either.

However my view about the gender issue isn't one of realism, but rather, one of game design. It doesn't sit well with me to have a feature that serves absolutely no purpose - I feel that it's a wasted opportunity.
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shasarak



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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

There certainly are a lot of differences between a "typical" man and a "typical" woman, and a lot of them clearly are biological in origin, not cultural. The differences between typical male and typical female brains, for example, are mostly the result of the level of testosterone the person was exposed to in the womb.

There is a condition (the name of which escapes me for the moment) which results in very high in-utero testosterone. This can be corrected as soon as the child is actually born. If you look at women who experienced this in-utero, and compare them to the general female population, you find there's a huge difference - all of the women who were exposed to high testosterone while gestating have the sort of brain that is typically male - they are "tomboys" while growing up, have high spatial skills and low verbal skills (like men), and so on.

In this case it is only the in-utero testosterone that can make the difference, because, once they're born, everything else is exactly the same as it is for any other woman - their hormonal state is the same, and there are no differences in upbringing either.

There are significant structural differences between a typical male and typical female brain. Men, for example, tend to process language only in the left brain hemisphere, while women process it on both sides. One effect of this is that if you put headphones on a woman and play her two different words, one to each ear, she will probably understand both. Do the same to a man, and he'll only be able to make out one word. Male stroke victims completely lose the power of speech much more frequently than female ones, too - if the language processing in the left hemisphere is damaged, men have nothing to fall back on, but a woman would need to have a stroke in both hemispheres to suffer the same effect.

As well as differences due to in-utero testosterone, the are others due to more recent exposure to male or female hormones. There's an effect that you see in male sportsmen, for exmaple, if you measure testosterone levels. Before the "big match" the players' testosterone is about 20% higher than their normal levels. During the game it rises even higher. At the end of the match, the winners have a testosterone level that can be anything up to 60% higher than normal, while the losers have a level that is actually 10% lower than normal. So the winners actually experience a direct, chemically-induced "high" as a result of their victory, while the losers feel terrible - miserable, and tired.

Where this gets particularly interesting is when you extend the tests to the spectators: men in the crowd experience changes in testosterone level that are almost as great - high before the game, really high after the game if the side they are supporting has won, and low after the game if their side loses.

Women do not exhibit this at all: their testosterone level stays steady, and isn't affected by winning or losing. After an all-women game the losers will be saying "no, I don't feel bad, I think I played as well as I could have, which is all that really matters" - and, while the losing men are probably saying the same thing, the women actually mean it.


Men

Better daylight vision
Superior spatial skills (e.g. better at parallel parking)
More aggressive/violent
More prone to risk-taking
More logical/analytical
Communicate directly/literally
Higher alcohol tolerance


Women

Better night vision
Better hearing
Less prone to risk-taking (so they are better drivers in all respects other than parallel parking - 93% of road accidents are caused by men)
More intuitive/sensitive
Communicate indirectly/by implication
Superior verbal skills
Superior multitasking


However, having said all that, there are some important caveats:

1) Not everyone has the type of brain that is typical to their gender. Roughly 20% of each sex has a brain that is more typical of the opposite gender, and another slice has a "gender-indeterminate" brain. Of the people who have good enough spatial skills to become a competent structural engineer, four fifths are men - but you'd be very silly not to consider women for the task at all, because, if you do, you're eliminating one fifth of the best candidates. In the same way, you'd be silly to ignore the contributions to be made by male nurses.

2) Even in real life, it is possible to artificially shove the body in the direction of one gender or another - a woman who takes steroids ends up with much the same musculature (and quality of skin, etc.) as a man, because her hormonal state has become male. Female to male transexuals have beards and a broken voice, just like a man, etc.


When all's said and done, though, I don't think there's a great deal of point in trying to model this on a MUD. MUDs are games, things that are intended to be enjoyed; and, to a large extent, if you take choices away from players, they won't love you for it. Making choices is good - a player might be happy to decide "do I want to be stronger or better at picking locks?" "do I want to be stronger or better at not dying of exposure?" or "do I want to find it easier to manipulate NPCs or have a higher alcohol tolderance?". But the same player is really not going to like it if you wrap all three of those choices into a single decision. They want to be able to mix and match.

As arrowhen says, "realism" is a very thin argument indeed in a game where no one ever has to use a toilet and anyone can recover from a near-mortal injury in a matter of seconds. What matters is that it should be fun.
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KaVir



Joined: 11 May 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2005 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

shasarak wrote:
There certainly are a lot of differences between a "typical" man and a "typical" woman


The points you cite are perhaps too minor to have any significant bearing on most muds. They also assume that PCs are "typical", which is almost never the case.

Perhaps more importantly still, the points people have listed all refer to humans, which represent only one of the races present in many muds. Most muds treat humans as the benchmark, and I can see why some people would want to apply the same logic to both human genders, but the same doesn't have to be true of other races - perhaps female drow are bigger and stronger than male drow? Maybe female goblins lack the gift for magic, but possess an innate resistance to it?

Of course if you're talking about fantasy races you don't need to follow human standards at all - you could have satyr who are always male, dryads who are always female, treants who change gender based on the season, trolls who don't have any gender, a froglike race that can change gender at will, a race that has three genders, etc.

shasarak wrote:
When all's said and done, though, I don't think there's a great deal of point in trying to model this on a MUD. MUDs are games, things that are intended to be enjoyed; and, to a large extent, if you take choices away from players, they won't love you for it. Making choices is good - a player might be happy to decide "do I want to be stronger or better at picking locks?" "do I want to be stronger or better at not dying of exposure?" or "do I want to find it easier to manipulate NPCs or have a higher alcohol tolderance?". But the same player is really not going to like it if you wrap all three of those choices into a single decision. They want to be able to mix and match.


I want the speed of an elf, the strength of a dwarf, and the hairy feet of a hobbit! ;)

Seriously though, I don't really agree with your mix-and-match theory - particularly as its the whole premise that classes and races are based upon. Sure, people like to customise, but its all about weighing up the pros and cons - and making gender do something simply increases the options available.

After all, what's the difference between:

(a) Race 'goblin'. Choose from male (improved spellcasting) and female (magic immunity).

And:

(b) Race 'blue goblin' (improved spellcasting), Race 'green goblin' (magic immunity).

From a game design perspective, both have exactly the same result. From a thematic perspective, however, you've suddenly got a race with has some very interesting cultural and background story potential.
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