(This article is in response to a Kotaku article written by Cecilia D’Anastasio. For more on this, you can refer to my initial response here.)
Harassment during online gaming. As gamers, we’ve all experienced it, one way or another, to varying levels. Some of us have been lucky enough to experience very few cases of it, some of us experience it on a regular basis. Some of us experience minor harassment, some of us…not so fortunate. In the end, it’s a problem that has gone on since the internet really began to take off, as bullying went beyond the schoolyards, the workplace, the outside world. Bullying was now even reaching us at home when we thought we were safe.
It’s frustrating. It’s not exactly an enjoyable experience to be called names, told you’re shit at a game you like enough to play online with other people, the majority of them people you don’t even know. It’s never fun and we all wish it would go away, no one is denying that, no one is saying that harassment online is or ever will be considered okay.
What’s just as frustrating, in some cases even more frustrating than the harassment itself, is that people who are also in the lobby or party as well, they sit back in silence, sometimes in fear, sometimes in pure ignorance, instead of doing the right thing: standing up to a bully.
In all honestly, should it not be an easy thing to do? After all, bullies online do what they do because they know they’re anonymous, no one knows their real name, where they live, they can say whatever they want and get away with it scot-free. So in my head, it makes sense that I can lash back at a bully, call him/her (because both genders can be bullies, folks, in case you forgot) out on their bullshit and defend someone who is being targeted for no reason whatsoever. Will it stop the bully right then and there? 99 times out of 100, of course it won’t, but will it give this asshole something to think about the next time he/she decides to take a shot at someone for no reason other than to make themselves feel better about their miserable lives? Yes, and the more it happens to them, the more they’ll not bother to do so, because if they think they’ll be given shit every time they do it, why would they bother? It’s just more work for them, it’s so much easier if they sit in a lobby, call a guy a faggot, or tell a girl to make him a sandwich and that person gets upset.
I fully understand that there are people who don’t want to get involved. You are under no obligation to do so, if you’re not directly involved in the situation, you have no reason to jump right in, it is your right to choose to stay out of a fight you’re not in. But remember that heroes who save people in car crashes, fires, medical emergencies or any other situation where someone’s life is in danger, they had zero obligation as well to get involved and yet they chose to, because in their mind it was the right thing to do.
Let’s go with the popular victim story in online harassment. In my opinion, if you are online in a public lobby and someone is really ripping into a female gamer, telling her she needs to leave so another man can join, that she should make him a sandwich, or even worse, suck his dick, while it is not your obligation to get involved, it is certainly the right thing to do by jumping in and calling the harasser out for being an asshole. You stand to lose nothing by doing so, you only seek to gain from this, even if the entire conversation ends up being the bully turning on you. Stand your ground, stay calm and let the idiot run his mouth until the game is over. Because by jumping in and taking the bullet, you’ve gained the respect and appreciation of a total stranger that never would’ve expected anyone to come to their aid. You might even have a new friend on your friends list after that and possibly someone you end up playing games with for quite some time, you never know.
There’s no question that online harassment in gaming is a problem, it has been for a long time and will continue to be a problem for the foreseeable future. But if we as a community of gamers don’t stand up more often, we allow this to go on longer and spread wider. If we stand up to people and help out those who can’t defend themselves, who are too afraid to defend themselves, we can give these assholes something to think about the next time they decide to get on somebody’s case, for whatever reason.
And come on, folks. If you hear a guy telling a female gamer to make him a sandwich and you don’t call him out for being the lamest fuckwad in the world for using an old 50s stereotype of women than turned into a shitty 90s joke, you’re just as bad as the bully. It’s such a dumb fucking thing to say, call these idiots out for that shit!
Once in a blue moon, I will re-post something from my brand spanking new sports blog that transcends conversation beyond just the topic of sports. If I feel it’s something interesting and worth discussing with everyone, it’ll get posted here as well.
This article for those who don’t spend any time in the sports loop is about the situation that happened earlier this week with Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Kevin Pillar yelling a homophobic slur at a pitcher after being struck out. The article is not about the situation itself, but the outside reaction since the event. Pillar has since been suspended two games for the word he uttered, but as it’s to be expected of the snowflake generation, no punishment is fair enough and now they want him traded away from the Toronto Blue Jays.
My opinions in short for those not wanting to read the full article is that I don’t think people should be taking the word he said to heart at all. It was never intended to be directed at anyone, hell he never intended to say it. I don’t believe Pillar is homophobic and as a member of the LGBT community myself, I took zero offense with him saying the word, because again I understood it wasn’t directed at myself or anyone else in the community. I firmly believe Pillar is not homophobic, he does not hate people in the LGBT community and fully understands that what he said was wrong. So my reactions lie with the ridiculousness of people taking this slip of the tongue way too seriously, when it’s a word that was directed at a single person (who isn’t gay) and a word that isn’t even used towards gay people most of the time now in common dialogue. Just listen to your average Call of Duty online match.
Anyways, if you’re interested in reading further, check out the full article here.
I don’t make any bones about the fact that I love watching ecchi anime. Shows like Keijo!!!!!!!!, Infinite Stratos and OniAi, I adore those shows and I enjoy the flood of sexy anime girls parading around in the underwear or less. I don’t think there’s any problems with that, I don’t think there’s any reason why this kind of content shouldn’t be allowed to exist and I don’t think a show is any lesser for containing that kind of content, so long as that’s not the only thing it has going for it. That’s what hentai is for.
But at the same time, there’s something about shows that contain ecchi content in them that continue to drive me crazy and that’s the absolute lack of reality checking here, in that while there always seems to be a camera perfectly placed in a girl’s bedroom as she’s changing, thus exposing her pink lacy lingerie, there’s never any point in an anime where the same happens for any of the male characters. There’s no scenes where a guy is undressing (you’re lucky to see a shirt get pulled off), no scenes where a guy is showering or bathing aside from the hot springs episode and there’s no scenes where a guy ever has his underwear exposed.
Granted, there are some anime that do it, but generally speaking (at least from memory) when this happens, it’s designed as more of a comedy bit, where the guy drops into a room with a bunch of girls and he’s naked. It’s usually not animated properly, designed in a more cheesy style and it’s not designed to be something that is okay or normal. Instead, we’re to believe that in the context of a lot of these shows, it’s okay for girls to be seen undressing, showering and more, but it’s not okay for the male character(s) to be seen in the same way.
It really does beg the question of whether at least in Japan, there’s a bit of homophobia going on, whether it’s from the studio’s point of view or whether it’s the perception that the fans/viewers don’t want to see that kind of content. If it’s the studio just deciding they don’t want there to be a focus on the male body, then you know what? I can’t really argue with that, it is their piece of work, they’re allowed to write it however they’d like and I can’t judge them for that.
But if in any case it’s the latter, the idea that the presumed male-dominant viewership doesn’t want to have a scene where the male protagonist of a harem is walking around his bedroom in his boxer-briefs, then I will certainly take issue with that. I’ve stated before that while I have found male characters in anime I find myself being attracted to, there’s just nothing in real life that convinces me that I’m anything beyond a straight male when it comes to engaging in sexual behavior. There’s a clear majority preference in my head towards women, there are very few male characters that ever elicit any sort of reaction from me, so it’s safe to say that my preference towards ecchi content in anime would lean to that of female characters.
But going back to the notion of male viewers not wanting to see ecchi content with a male character in their shows, I don’t understand what the big deal is. When it comes to ecchi content with girls, depending on the rating you might actually see 100% bare breasts. For guys however, there’s just no way without the content being classified as hentai that you would see full-on dick. At best, you’d have to deal with bare boy butt. Oh no, not boy butt! Take it away! It burns my eyes!
Honestly, the majority of ecchi content with male characters that I have seen, it’s been with characters that I have no attraction to. Take the one above here, the shot of Itsuki from Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation. It’s a screencap I’ve used on several occasions now when it comes to this issue, a fantastic example of a scene in an anime where they don’t shy away from putting a male character under the same rules any female character would apply to when it comes to ecchi content. And in this show, I had Itsuki’s ass in the middle of my screen and I had zero attraction to the character and I didn’t get all offended or up in arms about seeing his butt on screen. Even if Aika didn’t show up not long after with her full naked body on display, this scene would’ve been fine regardless.
When it really comes to male nudity especially in anime, the only way it really throws me off, is due to the lack of that kind of content. It’s something you rarely see unless you’re actively searching for shows that are more geared to fans of yaoi anime, or anime that has a male-dominant cast, thus upping the chances of it being an anime featuring half-naked anime boys. When I’m thrown off seeing a scene like Itsuki in the hot spring, it’s not because I’m squeamish about seeing male nudity, it’s because with all the shows that I watch, guys are just never shown in that sort of context.
And it’s strange because well let’s be honest here, guys do the same things girls do in their daily lives. We also change our clothes, we also wear underwear and sometimes walk around the house in just that. We shower or bathe daily, we go to gym class in high school and change out of our normal clothes and into our gym clothes. Everything that we see girls doing in your average anime, guys do as well. The difference is that the writers, producers, whoever the fuck makes the call, they don’t ever insert a scene where a guy is shown in the same way. It’s like we’re left to assume that guys just magically change clothes, they stay clean all the time and don’t need to ever take care of their personal hygiene.
For a medium that is extremely unrealistic, there seems to be quite a lot of realism when it comes to the perception of men. What’s that, you ask? Well generally speaking, the average person in society just doesn’t talk about the male body. They don’t want to talk about it, they don’t want to see it, they don’t want to know it even exists. The only places we seem to be truly okay with guys taking their shirts off and wearing a little less than pants on, is at the pool or the beach. Now you’re probably thinking about other places as well, like the gym or at crazy college parties. The thing is that with those specific places, there’s circumstances behind the acceptance. At college parties, when the majority of people are drunk off their ass, you accept a lot more because your brain isn’t running at full capacity, so you tend to forget a few of the things you normally pay attention to. It’s like the classic moment you see in films and such, when two girls who claim to be straight get super drunk and kiss each other.
But the biggest circumstance when it comes to guys being “allowed” or “accepted” to wear less clothing in public aside from places like pools and beaches where it’s socially acceptable to do so, is that if you’re a hot guy. In anime, every girl under the sun gets shown in her underwear, no matter how big or small they are, though obviously it’s a rarity for an extremely obese woman to be in an anime unless she’s a comedy character, but that’s a conversation for another day. When it comes to male characters, is the normal looking nerdy guy ever shirtless? Nine times out of ten, it’s strictly the handsome boys who’ve got chiseled abs and are super athletic who get that luxury of being allowed to take their shirts off. In our society, we’re finally starting to push for plus-sized models with women, trying to convince everyone that all women are beautiful. But when it comes to guys, are we relaying that message? Because as far as I see it, we’re still in an age where if you want to be a male model, you gotta have a rockin’ body! There’s no plus-sized male models, at least not that we’re openly told about and having it shoved down our throats that they exist and it’s okay.
In anime, only three types of guys really get the proper ecchi treatment:
- The more normal-looking guys at first, but upon shirts coming off they have an athletic build. Because of course every protagonist has to look like he works out, no matter how lazy he is.
- The extremely muscular guys who have muscles on muscles. For some reason a lot of them seem to have “bubble butts” as well. It’s kinda weird…
- The very feminine-looking guys, the ones who could pass as a girl in the right light, unless they’re already dressing as girls to fool you, aka a “trap”. These are the rare cases where they’re usually designed as comedy characters, yet when ecchi moments come up, they’re still animated like hot girls, rather than the usual male ecchi moment, where it’s more comically designed.
As a guy who is relatively thin, I’m a slender build, 5’11”, just over 150 pounds, it’s kind of annoying to think that even characters who have what looks to be my build or very similar, they end up having abs and look like a million bucks regardless. Granted, I accept it because generally speaking the majority of anime characters are designed to be perfect, but it’s a little ridiculous when both male and female characters are portrayed as the laziest people on the planet, eat terribly and yet they still retain a model-like frame. I want some of this anime magic for my body, man!
Which makes it even more frustrating to think that the majority of anime guys are designed to be male models and they still don’t get shown off anywhere close to the same way all female characters in anime are.
So in the end, if this kind of stuff bothers you, I mean…wow! To think that a fictional male character in their underwear grosses you out that much, there’s definitely some deep-rooted stuff going on there. Because none of the pictures I’ve thrown into this article bother me in the slightest, I don’t feel like anything wrong has taken place by talking about this topic, nor from searching through image galleries to find all these pictures. Oh! By the way, also along with all these pictures I’ve posted, none of them are characters that I’m attracted to in any way whatsoever, these are literally just random pieces of artwork I’ve pulled specifically for this topic. I can admit that all the boys pictured in this article are good-looking, but that’s not necessarily indicative of me being attracted to them. The same goes for women, there are plenty of cases where I can see a girl, think she’s pretty, but not necessarily think I want to bed her. You can look at a person and think they’re good-looking without wanting to fuck them, folks! It’s a thing, it happens.
We need to move away from this notion as guys that if you’re straight, it’s weird or wrong to think another guy is good-looking. Girls all the time who are straight will talk about other girls, especially amongst their friends when they look pretty in an outfit they’re wearing and all that jazz. Guys just don’t do that and while I’m not saying we need a cultural and/or social shift where guys just start complimenting each other, I think at the very least we need to stop feeling like it’s a bad thing if we do and judge another guy if he does that.
And honestly, I think fictional material is a great way to start that, especially anime. Because like I’ve said before, anime is a medium of perfection, it’s where characters go to be sculpted like gods. And to use a cast of perfect male anime characters to slowly help other guys accept that yes, we can and do look good with a few articles of clothing off, not to mention by seeing other guys in that light, we can show that we’re not going to just suddenly to turn gay and have a sudden desire to suck a dick just because we see another guy in his underwear.
Because I’ve heard guys in real life talk like that’s a thing…and that’s absolutely fucking ridiculous.
It’s just a butt guys, you’ll be fine.
So while chatting online with a bunch of online friends, the conversation suddenly changed when one person in the chat room started talking about how he/she (don’t know) doesn’t like how guys in real life will play as female characters in online games where you can create your own character. Some of the reasons why this dislike came to be has to do with things like lying to people in-game, being perverted and the weirdest comment that was made was “If you’re playing as a girl in a video game, there must be some desire to be one in real life.”. So there’s a lot to go through and while I got my piece out in that chat room last night, I thought it’d be a great article to write here as well.
The key thing to understand in this situation is really the most basic common sense you can employ: This is a fantasy game, in a fantasy world with fantasy characters. You are under ZERO obligation to play characters that not only are your real-life gender, but follow everything else in your daily real-world life. Your online game character does not have to look exactly like you, it doesn’t even have to look remotely like you. Let’s take me for example, I’m a skinny 5’11”, 155 lbs guy with a bit of belly fat, but not much. Now I’m currently working on correcting that and developing some muscle, so for me it makes a lot of sense that if I was to create a male character, I would make him slim but well-toned, abs and all. Why? Cause it’s a visual representation of my own personal goals and at this current point of time it is indeed a fantasy of mine to reach that point. Generally speaking there’s three ways you can go with a character that’s your own gender. You either go realistic, which is boring. You go ridiculous, which games like Saints Row do very well. Or you go with what you wish you looked like, whether it’s your body type, hairstyle, tattoos you’re afraid to get, all that jazz. A lot of the time it depends on the game too. If it’s a game like Saints Row, I’m going ridiculous, but if it’s a game like The Sims, I’ll do a hybrid version, where it looks as much like me as possible, but when I hit my personal fitness goals. So face-wise it looks a lot like me, he wears the same kind of clothes as me, but he’s got some muscle, especially some washboard abs.
But when we’re talking pure fantasy games like Mass Effect and really any MMORPG, should it be surprising at all that a lot of people will choose to play a different gender (and sometimes a completely different race if the option’s there) than what they are?
Merriam Webster has the following for one of their definitions of the word “fantasy”:
the power or process of creating especially unrealistic or improbable mental images in response to psychological need <an object of fantasy>; also : a mental image or a series of mental images (as a daydream) so created <sexual fantasies>
Taking that in mind, if a fantasy is considered something unrealistic and improbable, what’s more fantasy in terms of creating a character than creating someone completely opposite to your real-life self in every way. I’m male, so I’d rather create a female character. I’m not that brave and have never gotten into a fight, my character kicks all kind of ass. And while I don’t have a serious problem with dealing with how I look, I love making characters that you’d consider to be on the top of the sexy totem pole.
There shouldn’t be anything wrong with creating a character based on your own fantasies, regardless of the nature of it. Want to look badass? Awesome. Want to look super intelligent? Cool. Want to look sexier than all the Time magazine’s sexiest celebrities put together? Fuckin’ sweet! All to you, there shouldn’t be any reason for you to not go in whatever direction you want, it’s your character and you’re going to be playing this character for an extended period of time, it should be someone you’re willing to play as and stare at for a long time. For someone to tell you that whatever you chose to play as is wrong, they’re being just plain stupid.
So let’s go through the three arguments I listed that this person made.
Again, you’re under no obligation to tell people who you are in real life, so to say playing the opposite gender and playing as such is lying to other players about who you really are, who cares?! Why does that matter? It’s a fictional character and a lot of players roleplay when they play these games, if that’s too much for you, you probably shouldn’t be playing these sort of games. Go play single-player games where you don’t create a character then.
As for those playing opposite gender characters being perverted, grow the fuck up. I also noted in chat how it’s only ever specified that when men play female characters it’s perverted, but if a woman plays as a male character, there’s zero problems with that apparently. If you’re going to use the perverted excuse, play both sides, you can’t have it one way. But honestly, should it be surprising at all that a lot of gamers prefer playing opposite sex characters? For me it’s simple. I’m heterosexual, I am attracted to women. So if I’m going to play a game, especially if it’s a third-person game and over 20 hours in length and I’ll be staring at someone’s ass the entire time, would it not make sense to have an ass to look at of the gender I’m attracted to? I say it over and over again, but they’re not real! Who gives a shit?! Now if someone’s making their character to look like Miley Cyrus, that’s weird, but if it’s a non-existent person, who gives a flying fuck?!
And lastly, that really dumb line of “If you’re playing as a girl in a video game, there must be some desire to be one in real life.”. That really blew my mind that someone had not only the thought cross their mind, but the filter didn’t immediately throw it in the trash. What does that have to do with anything?! I know we live in a world now where sex changes are becoming more common place and accepted, but I don’t see the correlation between playing an opposite gender created character and wanting to be that opposite gender. At no point in my life have I been playing as a sexy blonde elf girl and thought “You know what? I want tits and a vagina.”. THAT DOESN’T HAPPEN WITH PROBABLY 99.9% OF ALL THESE CASES!!! Did it ever cross one’s mind that maybe, just maybe guys play as female characters and vice versa because that’s what they like? It has nothing to do with wanting to BE that opposite gender, it has everything to do with wanting to be WITH that opposite gender.
At the end of the day, what you choose to play as is purely up to you. Whether you want to play as yourself, or something completely opposite of you, that’s completely and 100% your decision. While it is a manifestation of your own fantasies, it’s not necessarily an accurate depiction of what you are. If you’re the type of person who has a problem with people playing something they’re not, there’s something serious wrong with you, there’s some clear insecurities going on there.
If I want to play as a sexy female catgirl if the option exists, you bet your ass I’m gonna do that. Without regret.