Thursday, December 23, 2010

Geek Rant Topic 11: The Fairer Geek

When All Else Fails, you call Mousa the 14, that one ranting geek.

Ever notice the geeky activity (i.e. video games, card games, role playing, anime, cartoons, etc) you're most likely to see a high number of women in is anime and manga? Not an objective fact necessarily (though it might be and I just don't know), just an observation. In fact I may see more girls into anime and manga than I go guys. I've been to quite a few anime conventions and the stereotype of fat sweaty guys in sailor moon cosplay (costume play to those not in the loop) is like 1 to 200. Most of the slack is picked up by hordes and hordes of women. They're the male characters, the female characters, the animal characters, The furries(I've only ever seen male fursuiters so far.) everything! The artist's alley tables is filled largely with women, The anime club I ran in high school was primarily female/potentially primarily female (Even though there were more male regulars in the club, there were more girls in the school in general that were anime fans. It was a small school so I could gauge this easily.), and the anime club at the college I'm attending now is primarily female, and my the demographic of my anime-related videos on youtube is primarily female (Assuming they're telling the truth of their sex.).

Anecdotal evidence: it's right and wrong.

Anyhow, I thought this was fascinating because you always hear about how there are less girls in gaming (at least we used to) and there are all these articles on sexism in game, why the games that try to draw in girls are stupid, etc, etc. My dorm is filled to the brim with Magic: The Gathering geeks but not a single one is a girl. This is the same with the anime clubs I've been in. And When I'm in bookstores I see more ladies (though people in general) perusing the manga rather than the section where the Bone and Tintin compilations are. Tabletop RPGs are a different monster, there are definitely ladies in that area. In fact I think the ladies are drawn more towards JRPGs, not sure why, just a thought.

Anyhow, let's assume my observations have a modicum of truth, why are things the way they are? I can think of a few good reasons:

1) Marketing demographics
2) Most geeky activities have always had a "boy's club" exclusionary feel to them. 3) Handsome Men
4) Variety

1) Marketing demographics.
What's the difference between American comic books
(Yes, Europe, I see The Beano, Tintin, and Asterix and I love those, but I need to go with what I know here.) and Japanese comic books? Well besides the fact when I say American comics you immediately think Superhero comics, you're more likely to find comic books in Japan that appeal to everyone and every interest. American comics used to do this until the comic code fiasco occurred and effectively purging the comic book scene of almost everything but surreal superhero comics. Nowadays you have tons of superhero comics that overshadow your occasional very good independently made comic. But in Japan, while the shounen (term for young boys) demographic is large, it doesn't necessarily overshadow everything else. I mean, I own a manga that teaches you statistics! There isn't exactly a limit to what is made there (due mostly to cheap production values).

This means there is a larger percentage of stuff, manga and their anime counterparts, geared primarily towards the ladies. In video games their attempts towards getting more girls involved have been a little... sexist. Not all of them are bad shovelware, but most of them are pretty bad stereotypical pink shovelware. That is not how you do it, game industry. You make things more gender neutral or gender inclusive in your games, that's how you draw the ladies in. I mean come on, who in the world is kidding themselves, The Spartans in Halo or the protagonist in any and all first person shooter is a dude. Or games like God of War where, what's this? A male protagonist? Why couldn't the god of war be a chick? Chicks too flimsy? What's that I hear? There's sex scenes and naked ladies in your game? What's wrong with doing a complete reversal? I'm not asking for people to just switch the sex around for all the popular game, I'm saying try to get into what a girl may like in a game without always going stereotype or... doing a cop-out like in pokemon where you just choose "Are you a boy protagonist or a girl protagonist" and the game be exactly identical, men and women experience things differently.

Card games I'm not involved in enough to figure out why it's a sausage fest. But superhero comics. Oh superhero comics... Obviously they're big fat teeanged boy power fantasies, look no further than nerdy loser Peter Parker becoming awesome yet nerdy when he becomes Spider-man and gets all the ladies. You get your muscular manly men and women that look like supermodels with more tracts of land. Gee, such respectful depictions of our fair ladies, I wonder why girls aren't interested. True, some are dressed more modestly and well characterized but really they're more likely to be the male power fantasy's object of desire than a female power fantasy.

2) Most geeky activities have always had a "boy's club" exclusionary feel to them.
Most geeky activities are fairly 'boys only" clubs. For some reason most of the stuff is advertised towards boys while the girls get dolls, fashion, pink, baby care, etc. Totally equal. So obviously for years, women have not been growing up with geeky things geared towards them due to sexist standards that never end.

Most of this is covered in section 1 but additionally, not only have these things been geared towards boys for years, they're hard to get into for people with casual interest, i.e. girls who mostly haven't been given a reason to be interested in thee things to begin with. Video games aren't hard to get into that's more of covered in section one. Everything else has years of continuity and rules. Superhero comic books have years of annoying continuity I'll explain next essay, tabletop RPGs have editions and edition wars, Magic the Gathering have different editions and rules and card types and card colors and for some insane reason people are able to memorize a bazillion of these, and different entry levels for different interests. Like my sister finds even the most basic and self contained fantasy or sci-fi to be "too complex" and I can see each different one as their own thing, but I think she sees it all as a single conglomerate she has to get attempt to understand all of. I mean Elves, orcs, vulcans, dwarves, wookies; to the casual viewer it's all the same to them and if it's not their cup of tea it makes even less sense.

But manga and anime are just single stories, every thing is right there for you like a book and since they're done by a single person (with their assistants) you have consistency unless the author says so. As as stories they have a beginning and an end, simple as that but with all the complexity you need in a story. No easy exclusion.

3) Handsome Men
This was partly a joke, but seriously, our space marines and superheroes are usually rugged male power fantasies, they're not there to look good for the ladies, guys don't know what attract ladies, that's why we suck so much and try so hard. But since it appears some manga writers/artists are women so they know exactly what they're doing and doing it right.

There's just something about the anime and manga art style, specifically of pretty boy that seem to draw girls in. I'd like to see say God of War's Kratos right next to Kyo Kara Maoh's Gwendal in an attractiveness poll and I'm almost willing to bet real money that Gwendal would win by a landslide.

And you know what else is abundant with beautiful men? The Video game equivalent of an Anime: BOOM! Japanese Role Playing Games. Final Fantasy, The Tales series, Even Kingdom Hearts.

So Is this silly? Yes. But does it have merit? Potentially. I suggest a study should be done; handsome men bringing in the ladies into geek oriented things. It's a stupid idea but I'm just spit balling like I always do.

4) Variety
So most card games are rooted in fantasy or sci-fi, same with video games because video games can be outlandish (they have things like dating sims, racing games, some first person shooter, etc, of course, it's the principle of the matter.), superhero comics, the books geeks tend to read and the movies they tend to watch.

Anime and Manga are like every other sort of book only with picture which tells you a lot about it's variety, like the aforementioned one that teaches you statistics. Which means whatever you could be interested in is potentially in that format. Cooking, action, adventure, mystery, romance, magical realism, historic fantasy, it's going to be there, trust me. There are some limitations due to Japan being sort of isolated but it's still a lot of stuff.

So in conclusion, yeah, just something to think about, check around your organizations involving geeky activities, and measure out the guy to girl ratio and get back to me, I'm rather curious about this and this is something you can take a look into too. Obviously things have diversified over the years, that's just the way things go, but these things go slowly so my observations might still be sound.

-Good Bye, Good Luck, and Imagination is Your Greatest Power
Mousa the 14

No comments:

Post a Comment