Well, that was bound to happen

Titan Studios\' new fatphobic game, Fat Princess

When I read the announcement of Fat Princess a week ago, I saw the events described in this post unfolding in my minds’ eye, and the whole thing was so annoying that my jaw fell slack and I had to go read something else to avoid thinking about it. But now I feel like I have to report on it, since I’m a feminist blogger who also designs video games for a living. Fat Princess, published by Sony and developed by fledgling Titan Studios in Seattle, has been getting a lot of word-of-mouth buzz in the last week. Is it because of the cute, cell-shaded animations? Hmmm, people certainly like the artwork, but that’s not exactly it. Is it the fact that you and 31 of your friends can run around a little medieval landscape, bonking each other with swords, building fortifications, and capturing territory? No, that’s not it either!

Oh wait, that’s right. It’s because of the fat chick! Because you know, fat women are hilarious! Mighty Ponygirl over at Feminist Gamers and Melissa at Shakesville have both posted reactions. And then it began, of course: a flood of predictably idiotic trolls streaming in from gaming communities.

The prototypical online gamer (at least the kind that burn their free time posting on message boards and blogs) is not only used to screaming offensive inanities at each other, but is crouched in a perpetual defensive posture, waiting to lash out if anyone dares slight their console of choice, claim that video games brainwash teens into shooting up high schools, or suggest that any game they like might be worth a political critique. I blame Jack Thompson for this. It only took a post on Neogaf followed by dismissive snorts from Joystiq and Kotaku for the usual suspects to whip out their concern trolling (“but being fat is unhealthy! we should be making fun of it!”) and completely unconvincing hand-waving (“you’re trying to SAVE the princess, it’s PRO-fat!”). My own reactions, after the cut.

Look, the humor here is not that hard to understand, especially if you look at the last few decades of gaming. There’s a classic fairy-tale trope in video games going back to Donkey Kong where a male protagonist must rescue the damsel in distress. “Thank you Mario! But our princess is in another castle!” Sound familiar? You don’t need to be a brilliant feminist scholar to realize that this kind of story, with a male hero rescuing a helpless girl, is not only a cliche but a sexist cliche that long predates the invention of Pong. That’s why it’s a Good Thing that Nintendo let Princess Zelda and Princess Peach kick as much ass as everyone else in the Super Smash Brothers series and other games. Even though they’re still wearing cheesy princess dresses, making them playable characters who can hold their own has gone a long way towards redeeming their origins as passive prizes to be collected.

Fat Princess is a send-up of that tired old cliche. Believe me, there are a lot of ways you could send up that cliche, but of all the possibilities, Titan chose to make the princess FAT. The joke here is also obvious: LOL who would want to rescue a fat chick? It’s a shtick that’s been used in animation and film plenty of times; the dashing hero thinks he’s rescuing a beautiful damsel in distress, but the “joke” is on him because it turns out she’s larger than acceptable! And therefore unattractive and a horrible burden for him to rescue, of course.

In Fat Princess it’s not an unexpected surprise, but more of a prank that the opposing forces play on each other. Each side has captured the other’s princess; in addition to fortifying, defending, and capturing territory, you can feed your captive food. Because women are helpless in the face of cake, of course, she just eats and eats. And of course, absolutely anyone who eats a lot is going to balloon up into a spherical caricature of a heavy person, right? That’s how fat people get made! And of course she’s so heavy that it takes a whole crowd of soldiers to carry her! Because that’s what fat people are like! The cartoon-logic is impeccable. It’s also very recognizable, from a long history of our culture mocking the fat, blaming fat people for their bodies, perpetuating all sorts of bullshit about fat. It’s so recognizable that it doesn’t really need to be explained to anyone who has a problem with this kind of mockery.

The most ridiculous gamer-community defenses of this game are the flimsy ones that claim that Fat Princess doesn’t really perpetuate negative stereotypes about fat people, or that it’s pro-fat because you’re trying to rescue a fat girl. I’m sorry, but it’s been obvious since it was announced at E3 that a lot of people found this game downright hilarious. Just look at the coverage from last week. And it wasn’t because of the cartoony little soldier boys and girls hacking each other up; Castle Crashers, another hotly anticipated game with a similar art style and theme, didn’t get the same “OMFG I’m laughing my ass off” reaction. The game is absurd, deliberately so, because of the inclusion of the eponymous Fat Princess.

And that boils down to making fun of fat people, whether it’s overtly mean and cruel, or just “played for laughs” in that way that meant Chris Farley had no choice but to play a blustering oaf. The reason “token fat guy” is a sidekick in that god-awful Not Another Teen Movie. Because fat people are automatically jolly and hilarious, right? Look, just admit it. You think the game is funny because of the fat girl. Society teaches us that this is funny. I used to think fat people were inherently hilarious too — when I was 15 years old. Then I grew the fuck up and realized it made me an asshole.

The sad thing is that the game doesn’t even need this fat chick schtick in order to be a good game. Mighty Ponygirl is right: the gameplay sounds like it would be great on its own, as long as it’s done right. The whole princess thing is just an additional mechanic that makes it more and more challenging to win the game. And the princess doesn’t even need to be a princess; from what has been released so far, she’s essentially nothing more than a heavy, inanimate object that takes a long time to move. Except this object is portrayed as a person who got fat by eating too much. And that’s not playing fat for laughs? Right.

Mighty Ponygirl already suggested two alternate ways of portraying this mechanic and it’s not hard to think of more. Heck, I’d even play Velcro Princess. You attach more and more random crap you find to her, Katamari style, cats and armchairs and scullery maids, until she becomes impossible to move. The princess would stil bel a helpless inanimate object, but since you can play any of the other classes in the game as a female character, it kind of makes up for it. And it doesn’t make fun of fat people.

By the same token, it’s not like games with fat characters have to mock them or reinforce stereotypes like “fat people can’t move on their own” and “fat people will eat anything you put in front of them.” This opinion seems to confuse the more dimwitted dewd-gamers, who say things like “what, you don’t like skinny chicks in games, and now you don’t like fat chicks in games, there’s no pleasing you feminists!” Figure it out, dumbass. We’re complaining about mocking, objectified portrayals of fat people and over-representation of certain other body types as sexpots, heros, and sexpot heroes. Heck, a lot of gamers have complained about it too, even in the early coverage of Fat Princess on Kotaku.

A strategy game with a name like Fat Princess could feature the princess as one of your most important military units, powerful and important for strategy because she’s fat. (And if you think that means she’s a sphere that rolls other units over, you’re missing the point by a mile.) Or, like any number of large male characters in games — Barret from Final Fantasy VII and E. Honda from Street Fighter both come to mind — her weight could simply not be a big deal. But that’s probably too much to ask from a culture where fat women get treated like pariahs far more than fat guys do.

The art director of Titan Studios, James Green, e-mailed Joystiq to ask “Does it make it better or worse that the concept artist (who designed the look, characters, everything) is a girl?” Tsk tsk, James. Don’t blame your female artist for the idea behind this game unless she came up with it herself. If she didn’t, then she was asked to draw a fat fairy-tale princess along with those other characters, and she did a good job at her assignment. For the record, it doesn’t make it better OR worse that she’s a girl. Game developers who are women — and I should know, I’m one of them — are just as capable of making decisions that are sexist, fatphobic, or bigoted as male game developers are.

To get the taste of Fat Princess out of your mouth, I’d like to give you all a trailer of a less offensive game. Sadly, I can’t give you anything that portrays large women in a positive or even neutral light. I don’t know if such a game even exists, which says a lot about the context here, about what’s reprehensible or responsible. (Is there a Shrek game that stars Princess Fiona?)

In lieu of that nonexistent game, here’s an upcoming title with a female protagonist who’s not a passive object at all: Mirror’s Edge. The main character, Faith, is less sexualized than average for female game heroes: she’s wearing a tanktop, light pants, and running shoes, because she’s a courier in a totalitarian future where important messages have to be carried by hand to avoid omnipresent surveillance of the wires. Of course, it almost doesn’t matter what she’s wearing. You’re playing the game from her point of view, seeing her arms and legs twist (what, not her butt or her boobs? shocking) as she parkours her way across rooftops and evades or defeats security forces. She can do so without even firing a single bullet or killing anyone, if that’s the way you choose to play it.

(Warning: this video might make some people motion sick. The actual game has visual aids to keep this from happening, but they’re not apparent in the video.)

Impressively, even the short demo of Mirror’s Edge shown in the video passes the Bechdel test as Faith meets up with her contact, another rooftop runner who accepts delivery of her package. Are you paying attention, Titan Studios? Next time, let your game succeed on its own merits as a 32-person real-time-strategy cartoon-gorefest. It looks like it would have been good. You didn’t really need to drum up extra PR in the form of fatphobic controversy. After all, your biggest problem isn’t lack of attention. It’s the fact that almost nobody owns a Playstation 3, and your game’s being published by Sony so it’s probably not going to be sold anywhere else. Aww, too bad!

Oh, and before I forget: the moderation policy for this comments thread is going to be “nothing that even remotely stinks of trolling.” If you’re not a regular commenter on this site, you’re welcome to comment if you have something useful and new to contribute. That means none of the same tired old cliched anti-feminist or anti-fat bullshit; if you want to talk about fat, you’re required to read up on the politics of fat acceptance first. And guess who gets to decide if your comment is useful? That’s right. Me. If you don’t like it, I have pile of stickybombs you can sit on instead.


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About Holly

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/12/10/and-this-is-the-part-where-i-stumble-in-kinda-late/
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194 Responses to Well, that was bound to happen

  1. Sarah the Librarian says:

    It is ironic that today I was given the task of picking out individual titles for our new video game collection at my library. We will not be purchasing Fat Princess, but I’ll be buying two copies of Mirror’s Edge for both P3 and 360. Yeah, don’t piss off the feminist librarian who buys your shit.

  2. DSimon says:

    Bullet from Final Fantasy VII

    Who’s that? I don’t remember anyone named Bullet from that game…

  3. Roxie says:

    You rock Sarah.
    Thanks for the info on Mirror’s Edge. It looks amazing.

  4. exholt says:

    All I can say is…..what a dopey game. The fact you have a premise of feeding your captured princess from the opposing team so she becomes fat solely by putting cake before her adds to the dopeyness. It just seems like a cheap knockoff of Mario Brothers and other medieval fantasy type games I remembered playing as a kid/adolescent.

  5. PurpleChair says:

    I think over-feeding a princess is fine, in itself… what makes it sexist is that all the rescuers are male. I guess I just don’t equate ‘princess’ with ‘womankind’?

    Maybe it’s because I’m British? I see it as more of a class thing – teams of warriors struggling to rescue their monarch’s helpless offspring, etc. I guess ‘Fat Prince’ might not have the same ring to it? But I can’t say it would change the game for me.

    Anyway, I’m looking forward to it. It’ll never be as good as TF2, though ;)

  6. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » Fat Princess

  7. Lauren O says:

    I don’t know how this fits into any political critique of the game, but the fat princess in that still is SOO CUTE.

  8. (This is more a rant on the gaming industry and doesn’t deal with this game directly)

    Let me start by saying, Holly, that I’m glad that there’s people like you in the gaming industry. I’ve been in this industry for three years, and the only woman I’ve known who could’ve gone into games development has chosen a different career path.

    Her point of view is completely reasonable to me. “I don’t see why I have to be the martyr for the cause.”

    I have a huge problem with the gaming industry. It’s big and it’s gaping. My fellow political activists don’t get why I rant so much, and I understand why: they haven’t seen it from the inside, and most of them just don’t play videogames.

    I could say a lot about the gaming industry in general, but I think the root of the problem is how undemocratic the games industry has become. I believe progress and technological advances have come at the expense of extreme corporate intervention, the choking of creativity and the removal of people from the creative process. Sure, games began with bedroom programmers who had their share of privilege, being white, male and middle class. These days, games development courses are more widely available, and I’ve seen many people of working class backgrounds going into programming (hell, the two engineers on my team are both great examples of this). As such I think there’s a huge possibility there for the medium to be democratised.

    But the point is, the medium is simply undemocratic. The less open a medium is, the less we see the expression of oppressed minorities (or in the case of women, majorities), and the more we see the interests of those in power expressed. Here’s an example: one of the most politically subversive games I’ve played is Metal Gear Solid 2. How problematic is that? Number one, most people are totally baffled by a plot whose subtlety requires good knowledge of philosophy, ethics and political science to grasp. Not democratic at all. Two, it’s still a tale about a bunch of mostly white mostly dudes blowing each other up.

    I guess the point I’m laboriously trying to get to is the fact that issues like this are met with a shrug of the shoulders and a sad ‘sigh’ on my part. Because I’m drenched in this atmosphere EVERY SINGLE DAY, in a mostly white-male-dominated office where people are mostly apathetic-mild-right-wing (I’m not a racist BUT, I’m not sexist BUT), with no interest in actually learning about how other people live.

    But I don’t intend to stay in this industry. I’m only doing this to pay the bills. I’m not passionate about this business anymore, because so few people are interested in thinking outside the box; because all that matters is the bottom line and not creativity. Why should I be a martyr?

    I haven’t read the reactions to the game from the gaming community, because, like you Holly, I can probably predict them before even reading them. Because gamers are the masters (for it is mostly men) of knee-jerk reactions. It’s never “I’ll think about this and get back to it after I’ve read about fat portrayals in the media”. It’s never “I can see some of your points”.

    No, no no. It’s always how DARE you criticize this AWESOME game! How DARE you have ANYTHING CRITICAL to say at all! Oh, and you’re a woman? Haha you’re one of those stupid FEMINISTS!

    It all boils down to what an ex of mine used to say, years ago when I moved in a gamer circle. She wasn’t a gamer at all (and I have to thank her for me not being truly a gamer anymore), and once got in a heated argument with one of my friends in the kitchen, pointing out all these cultural studies/feminist critiques of the media and applying them to games. My friend, not an idiot, tried to argue ineffectively against her and eventually it all developed into an awkward silence.

    She said afterwards something I felt represented gamer culture very well, even though she’d never been in said culture: “Gamers will say anything as long as they can still play.”

  9. LittleMac says:

    Totally agree with points made against this Fat Princess game. That said, in Princess Zelda’s defense, her dress is not a generic cheesy princess dress (Peach’s is, obviously).

    Also, exholt:

    It just seems like a cheap knockoff of Mario Brothers and other medieval fantasy type games I remembered playing as a kid/adolescent.

    I’m not really sure you remember Mario Bros. all that well. :)

    Now if only I had something constructive to add.

  10. Yuri K. says:

    I assume you mean Barrett? I forget his name because I renamed him BA Baracus in my game.

    I’ve been thinking more about the female characters in Smash Bros. Peach, I think, is pretty much a parody of herself, which is fun: she fights in a frillly pink dress and wields a frying pan, really in recognition that that character is so over the top, they’re just going to go with it. Zelda is a normal, effective, balanced character – Zelda herself has never been as helpless as Peach; for one thing, the series is named after her: The Legend of Zelda vs. the Super Mario Bros. And since that first game, she has had an active role; the reason Ganon doesn’t prevail from the beginning is that she broke up and scattered the triforce when she realized she couldn’t protect it alone.

    Then there’s Samus, who’s always been a strong character except this time, she’s given a costume change that amounts to a body suit with standard video game proportions, including a seam that goes directly up her butt. It’s bizarre.

  11. Holly says:

    I assume you mean Barrett?

    Oops, yes. I always assumed that was a mistranslation since I read the Japanese name as obviously being intended as “Bullet,” but I think they did spell it Barret in the US release.

  12. Thanks — I’ve had to shut down the original thread because I just don’t have the time or energy to moderation an outbreak of trolls right now. It’s too bad — I was really enjoying how our game development of “Arm the Princess” was shaping up.

  13. Cath says:

    “Gamers will say anything as long as they can still play.”

    Well said. I read through that thread on Shakesville and found myself harboring homicidal thoughts about all the gamers who posted there. It was a perfect storm of privilege, ignorance and hate.

    I don’t call myself a gamer. I play games sometimes, but I don’t substitute that for an identity and I sure as hell don’t abandon all pretence of humanity for the sake of a bunch of fucking pixels.

  14. tps12 says:

    Interesting comment, Ariel, but I’d question whether the status quo is what the industry has “become” as much as it is a continuation of the way things have always been, or perhaps a return to form. At least, the stories you hear about the early years of Atari and whatnot make it sound like it’s always been pretty undemocratic.

  15. tps12: that is true. And I think my article needed a caveat of “I know there are other people like Holly in the industry, but I have grown too disenchanted with the whole deal to try and join them in the struggle to improve what I consider to be an undemocratic medium.”

    You are right, the industry has always been undemocratic, but I think it doesn’t have to be this way. I believe gaming technology has evolved much faster than our capacity to properly understand and democratise the medium, and you could say that of all tecnology: we have very advanced medical tecnology but very stagnated social medical services.

  16. William says:

    I feel so sorry for whoever is on moderation duty today…

    Anyway, I guess the best that I can say is that I’m confused. You’ve got an RTS with a 16 person per team capacity with what looks like great graphics and gameplay, yet the central theme of your game is this? Not only is the mechanic problematic for all the reasons mentioned above but it seems like it would really interfere with gameplay. Nothing kills a game faster than a difficult and monotonous chore wedged inbetween engaging gameplay.

  17. Nicole says:

    Oooo, Mirror’s Edge looks good. I hope it does well. With the huge success of Portal, and, hopefully, Mirror’s Edge, I hope we will see more first-person games with awesome female leads.

    Ariel Silvera– How are the women in the Metal Gear Solid series? I just started playing Metal Gear (got the boxset), and I’m head over heels for Mei Ling, even if she flirts with Snake a lot.

  18. Nicole: Sadly, a mixed bag at best. When I say politically subversive, I mean MGS2 is a game that came out just post-9/11 (in 2002) and was talking about the government controlling information for their own purposes. it’s not much of a feminist text, I’m afraid.

    That said, I love a few of the female characters, such as Sniper Wolf (from MGS), Meryl (MGS), The Boss (MGS3) and Fortune (MGS2). They’re all interesting in their own way, with The Boss being a fascinating, complex character.

  19. Wow.

    soooo LAME.

    I’m not a “fat woman” (or BBW or whatever… so please accept my apologies if I’ve offended anybody here). I guess I have a slender, normal body (I work out a lot) and even >>I<< get offended when guys make cruel, mysogynistic jokes about “fat chicks.” It’s disgusting. Not only does it hurt “fat chicks,” it also hurts women of other sizes and shapes.

    AND it also hurts guys… guys who prefer BBW over slender/skinny/whatever females.

  20. Clueless WW says:

    Very well-written post — it IS clear there are plenty of other items a capture-the-flag game can have, there’s no requirement that there be a fat princess. The allegation that it’s fat-positive is totally ridiculous, although it’s kinda creative.

    I love the Velcro Princess idea.

    Mildly related: This reinforces thoughts/worries that came up after reading a review on Racialicious of Sid Meier’s Colonization. Let’s say you’ve got a game with fun, innovative, and solid gameplay mechanics. And it has some aspects which make you uncomfortable — killing natives to steal their land, or force-feeding a kidnapped woman into immobile obesity — which aren’t the focus of the game, but give it an underlying “not quite right” feeling. There aren’t many games which manage to be fun, innovative, and have solid gameplay, so what are the options for a discerning gamer — refuse to buy, or rely on personal level of education and sensitivity to know it won’t negatively affect me? (And I’m also going to need to be sensitive about the games my kids play as they grow up, to know what “education” needs to be corrected or ameliorated…)

  21. Cooper says:

    Ariel Silvera – I’m going to have to disagree with you here, I think Metal Gear Solid is one of the more feminist-friendly game series around. Yeah, there are a few gratuitous T&A shots in the games, and you can use swimsuit magazines to distract enemy soldiers, but overall, the female characters in the series are extremely well-rounded and defy conventional video-game gender roles. I can’t think of any game other than MGS2 that features an ass-kicking pregnant woman, for instance.

    It’s also one of the few series I’ve played that features canonically gay and bisexual male characters. In fact, there are even some very strong subtextual suggestions that Snake (and Big Boss, for that matter) are bisexual, if you trigger some of the optional conversations.

    OK, I think that’s enough fangirl thread-derailing for now. :-)

  22. CJ says:

    Cooper, I totally disagree with that. OK, I’ll give you the pregnant Russian woman who’s name evades me now, but the other female characters seem to spend a lot of time fawning over or actually getting it on with Snake, and there’s plenty of damsel-rescuing too. I can’t see how they defy conventional video game gender roles at all!
    I have to admit, I liked gaming a lot more when I was younger. I’d choose pretending to shoot space demons over pretending to murder sex workers anyday..

  23. Heather says:

    “I could say a lot about the gaming industry in general, but I think the root of the problem is how undemocratic the games industry has become. I believe progress and technological advances have come at the expense of extreme corporate intervention, the choking of creativity and the removal of people from the creative process. ”

    100% agree with that statement. I feel kind of *bullied* out of gaming because I’m a woman (granted, there are other things I like better than video games . . .) Anyway, I’m also super proud of women (like my little sis) who are unafraid and run around and identify themselves as gamers (and have the skills to back up their words).

    It’s an older book now, but Hackers by Steven Levy offers some insights into how creativity was brought about in technology (it’s also a bearable read). The later chapters dealing with gaming are especially relavent.

  24. Holly says:

    Uh, about Metal Gear Solid. This series has never made a whole lot of sense to me, but isn’t there a weird thing about the latest one where the four main bosses are all beautiful women, rendered and mo-capped after real celebrities and models, who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder and have put in giant mechanical armor in the shape of different animals? As if that wasn’t weird enough, halfway through the fight they take off their armor and look like uber-sexxay ladies in skintight body armor (with heels, naturally) who walk slowly after you trying to choke you. Then, apparently if you evade them long enough it unlocks a secret mode where you can take pictures of them, get them to do “sexy” poses for you, and dance?!

    As seen in this video. I think the sound effects are meant to show that like many of the war-scarred characters in this universe, she’s a little mentally unbalanced. But hey, there’s nothing sexier than a traumatized, sobbing woman who poses for your camera in a skintight suit, right?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOtUoTP3Iv4
    (the “secret photo shoot” mode doesn’t start until halfway through)

    I mean, it’s really weird and that’s par for the course for Hideo Kojima and Metal Gear Solid. But it’s also very very creepy in a “fan service meant for guy gamers” kind of way that mixes a narrative of war trauma with… sexy modeling… OK, I think that says it all.

  25. Hank says:

    “The joke here is also obvious: LOL who would want to rescue a fat chick? It’s a shtick that’s been used in animation and film plenty of times; the dashing hero thinks he’s rescuing a beautiful damsel in distress, but the “joke” is on him because it turns out she’s larger than acceptable!”

    That isn’t the joke at all.
    With such a cynical reading of a simple game, perhaps it’s you that’s the sexist, anti-fat bigot here.

    What is it, exactly, that outrages you so much?

    Would it be more OK if it was “Fat Prince”?
    I suppose not, because then that would objectify and insult fat men, and unless you’re sexist you’d have just as much of a problem with that as you would the objectification and insulting of fat women…

    Unfortunately I am forced to conclude that you simply object to all non-serious portrayals of fat people in video games, and probably in all media.
    Which, of course, is bigoted to the core. Why should it be acceptable to have non-serious portrayals of thin individuals but not fat individuals? Why should fat people be given special treatment that other people are not allowed?

  26. Holly says:

    All right Hank — tell me why YOU think so many responses to this game found it totally over-the-top hilarious, as opposed to the thematically-similar Castle Crashers, which didn’t get that kind of response. I gave you my guess — which was based on a lot of responses from readers about how funny the fat-woman theme is.

    I’m surprised you didn’t get the point — the game makes fun of fat people, specifically fat women. It doesn’t need to, since it looks like a perfectly good game otherwise, an innovative one either. And yeah, of course if it was “Fat Prince” it would still be an anti-fat theme. But that’s not as likely to happen, in part because of the history of “princesses” being the passive objects waiting to be rescued, and in part because immature audiences find fat chicks much more hilarious, am I right? You can visit any number of the links near the beginning of post and see for yourself.

    Show me a non-serious portrayal of a thin person, or an average-sized person, that’s about making fun of them for their size. I’m sure somewhere out there you can find a “beanpole” joke, but can you find anywhere near the number that are making fun of fat people for their size, playing the fact that they’re fat for comedy? That’s the difference. Of course fat actors and fat characters should be able to play comic roles; nobody’s arguing that. The question is whether they should always have to be the butt of fat jokes, or “inherently hilarious” because of their body. And yes, that would be just as wrong if it was making fun of thin people for being teensy-weensy like twigs that you can break in half, and I wouldn’t care for that much either. But the difference in prevalence is probably several orders of magnitude; I see media that’s making fun of fat people, that’s targeting my fat friends, on a very regular basis.

  27. Cooper says:

    Holly – OK, I wasn’t really including MGS4 in my analysis of the series, since I didn’t think very many people would have played it yet, but yeah, the sexy war victim bosses are egregiously sexist. (And pretty uninspired as boss fights, too, I might add.) MGS4 is a weird game all-in-all: it’s a game where you run through a battlefield shooting people, but it’s also obviously intended as a postmodern criticism of the pointless violence of the battlefield FPS genre, and even as a criticism of the violence in previous Metal Gear games. In my opinion, the sexualized female war bosses are a part of that criticism, but since that nuance is lost on the majority of people who play the game, I’m not sure how I feel about them.

    If you stick to the first three games, though, the female characters are portrayed in a mostly-positive way, and there’s quite a bit of gender-role subversion going on if you pay attention.

  28. tinfoil hattie says:

    For the record, it doesn’t make it better OR worse that she’s a girl.

    Actually, it makes it worse, because she’s not a “girl,” she’s a WOMAN. Unless Sony hires developers under the age of 18, in which case I stand corrected.

  29. Shayne says:

    There are serious portrayals of fat people in video games? Where? I need to object to them too.

    And I think you missed the memo about making fun of anybody’s body size. So yeah, any ridiculous attention to a particular body shape comes under fire. That includes anorexic, thin, average or fat. Some people don’t like women defined by their body size by others.

    It isn’t that hard of a concept to get. Really.

  30. Ananse says:

    I love you. And as a fat feminist gamer, I’m so tired of seeing this stuff.
    One gameplay dynamic that came to mind is if the rescuee loved children, and all the children of the soldiers you killed glommed onto her for comfort. Thus, the difficulty of the rescue is proportionally related to how many soldiers you killed – either it’s hard going in, but easier coming out (faster movement) or vice versa. Depending on the difficulty level, there could be more or less kids with more or less quantities of stuff (teddy bears, XBOXes, pictures of family, Harry Potter get-ups, etc.)
    I don’t frequent mainstream gaming websites anymore, precisely because of the attitude of many of the loudest mainstream gamers that sexist, racist, fatphobic, homophobic elements are totally cool, even bonuses, in a game.
    PS – I never get motion sick, but that video – urgh. Yeah. Looks totally awesome, though.

  31. Hank says:

    Why is the game’s publisher to blame for people’s reactions to the game?
    Is the game publisher advertising it somewhere as “A HILARIOUS FAT LADY ACTION GAME”, or have they made any statements saying that “THIS GAME IS FUNNY BECAUSE IT HAS FAT WOMEN”? So far everything I’ve seen from the publisher mentions the multiplayer mayhem being the source of hilarity, not the Princess’ size.

    As an aside, did you find Wall-E offensive enough to generate a post like this as well?
    Was the negative portrayal of fatness in Wall-E enough for you to damn the entire film, in the same way that you’re damning this entire game because of it?

  32. Roxie says:

    I used to belong to a gamer community some years ago.
    There were some guys who realized the misogyny that was celebrated within the community (and I do mean celebrated, one guy who often gave “advice” about how women used sex as their key to everything and how that actually gives them more power than men in society was hailed as “the truth”) was wrong and railed against it..However, mostly it was just a poisonous, poisonous place. Lots of “nice guys”.

    Eventually I was pushed out by someone who had claimed to be friend and I just left. My leaving was “nominated” for one of the best moments of that year. They couldn’t stand my consistently combative feminist arguments.

    Now, I’m pretty much burned from that community. I still play games, but I don’t socialize with those who do like I used to.

  33. Hank says:

    Also I’d like to mention in this space that I was banned from commenting on Shakesville for posting incredibly polite questions and opinions, simply because my point of view differed from the blogmistress.

    I’m really startled at how incredibly rude and negative the “feminists” and “anti-bigots” on that site are. The regular posters actually seem to be worse than the trolls.

  34. Daomadan says:

    Hank: It seems you were banned for good reason too.

    Many people found Wall-E offensive, particulary those who are part of the HAAS (Healthy At Any Size) movement. This particular game is incredibly offensive and the game designers and the publishers are to blame for allowing something like this to be created and to come out. It once again makes a woman a passive object and on top of that they created her to fall into the stereotype of “all fat people are junk-food eating tubs of lard we must cart around”.

    “I’m really startled at how incredibly rude and negative the “feminists” and “anti-bigots” on that site are. The regular posters actually seem to be worse than the trolls.” Oh, rude and negative simply because they’re trying to tell you why your privileged opinion might not be appropriate in this circumstance? Trust us Hank. We’ve heard complaints like yours before.

  35. Hank says:

    No, I think they’re rude and negative because instead of trying to inform people about why their preconceptions are wrong, they resort to name calling and personal attacks.

    As I already stated, my posts were very congenial and polite, and I went out of my way to ask to be educated if I was incorrect, and in response I was heckled, harassed, and then banned for having a different opinion.

    I do agree that this game makes a specific woman into a passive object (how could anyone disagree?) but I think that saying that it somehow says that ALL fat people are “junk-food eating tubs of lard we must cart around” is taking it a bit too far. The game says that this SPECIFIC person was made fat by her enemies stuffing her with junk food against her will, and doesn’t make any overarching statements about ALL fat people.

    I’m also surprised to see American Apparel advertisements on this site.
    I assume that you’re aware of the blatant sexism and objectification of women found in virtually every American Apparel ad ever made, not to mention the horrendous sexual harassment of employees/models perpetrated by the company’s founder/owner Dov Charney?

  36. Holly says:

    Hank — I do think the creators of a piece of media have to take into account the culture they’re bringing it into, who their usual audience is (in this case, PS3 owners who buy games on PSN) and what the reaction of the audience is going to be. I mean, that’s part of why Dave Chapelle abandoned his own show, as I understand it — he realized that despite his intentions, people were interpreting and using his comedy in racist ways.

    And this is even more clear-cut, if you ask me. It’s intended to be a comic game, the Fat Princess is being used for comedy. Now, is it possible that Titan Studios did this entirely unintentionally, and didn’t realize this is how their comedy-cartoon-game-starring-a-fat-lady would be taken, with big crowds of gamers making fat chick jokes? Sure, I guess it’s possible. I don’t think it’s likely, speaking as a game developer; you’d have to be kind of out of touch not only with gamers but with the way fat people are treated in society in general. You’d have to have never read anything a fat activist has written on the subject of negative portrayals of fat people. And that’s a little shortsighted, irresponsible even, if you’re going to make a game with “Fat” in the title.

    Do I think all games have to be socially conscious? I think that would be a real stretch to make that happen, especially in smaller projects. But yeah, I do think that responsible game development does think about the social impact of what’s being made and take that into consideration. Also, the game’s not shipped yet; Titan and Sony have plenty of time to make their own comments if they want. Sadly I think Joystiq and Kotaku are right in that I doubt any comment is forthcoming. It’s easier just to ignore this kind of thing, because there are enough customers out there who will support it and buy it because they like laughing at fat people.

    As for Wall-E, why yes, there was a long discussion on this blog, and posts on other connected blogs, about Wall-E and its take on fat.

    I can’t comment on the policies at Shakesville since I don’t blog there, but I do expect that commenters on this thread engage in civil productive discussion that at least agrees to some basic guidelines. I’m not interested in this conversation veering off towards whether fat people are inherently unhealthy and therefore appropriate targets of ridicule, as I made clear in the original post. You haven’t gone there, but I’ll decide for myself if I think you’re over the line with straw-man arguments and hyperbole so far that I’d consider it troll territory.

    For instance, I’m definitely not blanket condemning Fat Princess any more than the posters in that other discussion were “blanket condemning” Wall-E. I read that discussion and came away with the idea that there are some bad things about Wall-E and some good things. I’m actually going to see it tomorrow evening, and I already mentioned to my movie buddy that I’ve heard there are some problems around how fat people are treated in the film, since I know he’s easily upset by that stuff. But I’m taking it all into consideration.

    Similarly, I know that the focus of the original post was on the problematic aspect of Fat Princess. That’s in part because the “fat” part is what all the uproar has been, and the uproar prompted my post. However, I hope I also made it abundantly clear that the game has cute graphics, interesting gameplay, in fact looks like it would be a great game. A game that doesn’t even seem to NEED the whole fat chick schtick to be good, which makes it all the more aggravating. I don’t think that’s a blanket condemnation. In fact, I look forward to trying this game (if I can, since I don’t have a PS3 and know very few people who do) so I can evaluate it more thoroughly. I’ll grit my teeth during the parts related to the princess, but this game, like any work, is more than just one problematic thing that sours it.

  37. Holly says:

    I do agree that this game makes a specific woman into a passive object (how could anyone disagree?) but I think that saying that it somehow says that ALL fat people are “junk-food eating tubs of lard we must cart around” is taking it a bit too far. The game says that this SPECIFIC person was made fat by her enemies stuffing her with junk food against her will, and doesn’t make any overarching statements about ALL fat people.

    Games in general don’t have very many positive portrayals of fat people, have a few examples of relatively neutral portrayals of large guys, and have zero positive portrayals of fat women. And now we have Fat Princess, where multiple princesses (there are at least two per game) can be turned into a giant “tub of lard.” Of course the game — and no work of fiction — flat out makes a world-describing statement like “all fat people are lazy!” But this game, and other works, do portray fat characters in certain ways, in a certain light, and look — I am pretty clear on the fact that this game is getting humor out of the way a fat woman is portrayed. Do you really believe that’s not the case? Or that it doesn’t say anything about fat people in general, even if it’s just a couple princesses?

    American Apparel — actually no, I have no idea why they’re there, but that’s a good point.

  38. BluDiE says:

    I don’t get it I really don’t, and I’m sure someone will put me in my “genderbashing” place for it, but I just don’t understand. It is a game, a “remake” of a AMAZINGLY FUN game called “General CHAOS.” Yes the two factions of MEN are fighting over a princess, who you CAN make fatter, if that’s the route your team decides to go to achieve the victory condition. THATS ALL! No one said “Fat people are …” no one said “We chose to make the capture item a woman, because they obviously have no mind of their own and will sit here and eat cake all day,” well, no one except the people in blogs who are up in arms about this game. Would it really satisfy you if they changed the graphic of the princess to a treasure chest, knowing that it was supposed to be a woman the whole time? Would it make it better if there were female soldiers too?

    Somehow I doubt it.

    Yet games like COOKING MAMA are loved the world over by women, forgetting the fact that the point of the game is TO STAY IN THE KITCHEN AND COOK with the NON-MALE lead. Games with positive female leads exist, even more so now that “casual gaming” has become more prevalent. Why not rally against games like “My Personal Weight Loss Coach” or “Lets Yoga” because that shows a persons SIZE as something that needs to be fixed. Even Mirrors Edge gives a negative vision of women seeing as an AVERAGE woman would never be able to do any of the acrobatics in the game. Truth be told, almost EVERY video game character is an exaggeration of the gender it portrays, and the people who are playing it.

    Instead of being so negative about it and making a huge stink, you could be the BETTER person and make note, and do what you can to not support the developer. Instead of making tons of claims and assumptions about the game and why it was made. Video games are meant to entertain people, though i guess reading all of the negativity and backhanded bigotry are just as much fun.

  39. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    It should be noted that overly-aggressive (on the internet) adolescent male fanboys are not the gaming community by a long shot. They have just managed to become the dominant voice of those communities by being aggressively rude, hostile, and insulting to the point where more sensible people bail.

  40. ooshrooms says:

    Your interpretation of the effects of the game are WAY off. I’ll grant you that it’s funny partially because players come into the game with the mindset that fat people are funny, and morbid obesity is a burden. The former is prejudice but the later is just truth.

    If someone picks up this game and giggles at the sight of a fat girl, (s)he is immature, and had that mindset anyway. The game doesn’t really add to it. Nothing shown about this game so far promotes hating the princess, so I don’t get how you claim it reinforces bad stereotypes.

    I think you’ve missed the intentional social commentary behind the game. The use of a princess instead of any other desirable “object” is a satire on the age-old princess rescue. Super Mario Bros. along with countless other stories has a romantic attachment mixed with the duty of saving her. Players in Fat Princess who are used to the romantic aspect of these stories but aren’t attracted to this particular princess are forced to ponder why they’re rescuing her. Is it simply a sense of duty? Is it just an excuse to fight? By making her a ridiculous caricature, the developers prompt players to rethink their preconceived views of women as objects and/or sex symbols. That prejudice that you so loathe sets up a satire that diminishes sexism. It doesn’t reinforce but rather reduces negative views of women.

    The tactic of force feeding her works really well for two reasons. If the game had you cover a hostage in stuff or collect treasure, the stuff should be able to be removed piece by piece and discarded or taken individually instead of carried back en masse. These suggested alternatives that I’ve heard destroy the setup for the gameplay mechanic requiring many soldiers to carry your prize. The second reason for the fat princes is exaggeration of the effectiveness of force feeding the princess. Stuffing cakes in someone’s mouth for a few minutes or hours isn’t going to make them balloon up hundreds of pounds. There’s a difference between laughing at the character and laughing at the absurdity of the situation. I was highly amused by Katamari Damacy. There’s absolutely nothing offensive there, but the silly situation is just light fun. It’s the same thing.

    You point out that gamers on the internet stand at the ready to defend games and this stance causes them to go overboard like asses. Is it possible that your feminist convictions similarly caused you to jump and attack a game without clearly thinking through how it would effect people?

  41. Hank says:

    Thanks for the response, Holly. You’ve given me something to think about.
    While I’m not sure I agree with everything you’ve said, it’s nice to get a coherent response instead of mindless personal attacks.

    Part of the issue here is that (as I’m sure you know) the goal of “save the Princess” has become an entrenched part of video game mythology, and most video game Princesses are more like personifications of flags/goals than actual representations of women. The Princess could easily be replaced with a golden key or a flag or a treasure chest, but then it would lose its link to video game mythology and its reference to past Princess-centric games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Brothers.

    Is using a Princess as a generic goal marker in a game a conscious attempt to belittle women? Probably not. Does it have an unintended side-effect of enforcing negative stereotypes about women? Probably.

    How much of the past should we throw away?
    How much of the past should we keep?
    When does a symbol cease to represent the thing it was originally created to symbolize and gain a life of its own?

    These are all difficult questions that need to be addressed as part of this issue.

    PS: I’m currently playing “Professor Layton and the Curious Village” for the DS, and it has neutral examples of all sorts of body types. While this certainly isn’t the norm, it’s at least a step in the right direction.

  42. While I am very much disappointed by this Fat Princess game, I am pleased to say that Mirror’s Edge may be part of a potential new direction for games, with actually strong, non-sexual female characters, and much less macho bullshit.

    Portal, for one, is my favouritest game ever, and if Mirror’s Edge plays as smooth as it looks, it may just become a close second.

  43. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    ooshroms: You point out that gamers on the internet stand at the ready to defend games and this stance causes them to go overboard like asses. Is it possible that your feminist convictions similarly caused you to jump and attack a game without clearly thinking through how it would effect people?

    Well, so far criticism of “Fat Princess” has struck me as nuanced and well-grounded within trends of feminist theory and criticism of how differences in body weight are portrayed in popular media. I’m a bit baffled as to how this would “effect people.” In my opinion, if electronic media wants to be considered on the same intellectual playing field as other forms of mass media, it needs to take its lumps of criticism as such.

  44. Patrick Kellison says:

    Mirrors Edge perpetuates the stereotype that men are dumb authoritarians following orders from other dumb men, firing their weapons blindly (they never hit the target, not once.), and being generally anti-female. Notice that the other courier was a woman? None of the cops were women? A group of men with big flashy guns running around hunting women for no reason because they’re just “following orders (from who? The chief? Or maybe society at large)?

    It’s very, very easy to play the outrage game. On the other hand, and as a developer yourself, you should be able to appreciate how difficult it is for a fledgling development company to break into the industry, and easy it is to crush an idea by pouring out an endless amount of misplaced anger. There’s a fat person in a game who eats a cartoonish amount, and becomes cartoonishly large. This is not the same as portraying every heavy human being as being an oafish obstacle without self control.

    I’ve observed your troll warning, but I believe this comment is very much synced in the tone of your article. There’s enough fake outrage in the media for us to have to dwell on sinking the boat of a small developer just for being a wee insensitive. Insensitivity is not limited to females and fat people in video games. It’s not an underwear commercial, it’s hyperbole, and I think everyone gets that.

  45. Catnik says:

    Gee, Hank – super polite, you say?

    “Hank Today 12:20 PM
    The real issue here isn’t your weight or sexuality, it’s your ignorant criticism of a harmless game.

    1) You aren’t the target demographic for this game. You don’t even own the console that it’s being sold for, so why on earth should developers go out of their way to make sure that your demographic doesn’t find this offensive?
    [Translation: You have NO RIGHT to comment on this! Shut up! You just want speshul rights.]

    2) The whole point of the game is that both teams of gender-neutral players are FIGHTING OVER THE FAT PRINCESS. She is seen as an object of desire. How, exactly, is that a bad thing? Or are you saying that portraying fat people in video games is bad? If so, doesn’t that make *YOU* the anti-fat bigot?
    [Translation: The fat princess is being objectified! Shouldn’t you be glad that a fattie is being objectified? That makes you just like a sexy girl! Oh, and black is white, war is peace, and you are the bigot! You!]

    3) The fact remains that this game isn’t actually offensive, and the whole point of these posts is to outrage gamers, stir up controversy, and get more hits for your site so that you can make more money off your sidebar advertising. Congrats on successfully exploiting a small but web-savvy demographic in order to promote your website and rake in the dough.”
    [I, a non-fat, non-woman, have declared that this game is not offensive, because I am not offended! You’re just posting this to be mean to us poor, oppressed gamers! You are greedy and exploiting us! Wah!]

    Sorry, Hank, but if that’s polite, I’d hate to see what you consider rude.

  46. mattr says:

    I guess I must be an insensitive prick, but after reading three or four articles complaining about the fat princess in the game, I still don’t really get the extreme response it’s gotten. Do you realize there are some cultures out there that actually DO force feed their women to fatten them up… because it makes them MORE beautiful?

    Granted, that’s not the western stereotype, but there’s nothing awful about that either. Do you all honestly think they made the choice of a fat princess simply to piss off people that might buy their game anyways? I think not. Taking offense where no offense is meant is one of the worst parts of our society today, and it would be nice if people took a moment to actually think about what they’re complaining about, before posting it all over the web.

    People have been saying a lot of those taking offense to this are hypersensitive. I’m not sure that’s true, I don’t know you, but if you aren’t I certainly don’t think you took a step back to see if your initial offense was warranted. All this negative hype is just sad.

    Maybe it’s a GOOD thing for people to start wanting to save a fat princess… who knows, maybe it will make it more acceptable for people to be fat, and more people will start wanting to save all the ‘heavy hotties’ from dancing along at a club.

  47. Cath says:

    There’s a lot of folks who need to read Privilege 101.

  48. elise says:

    @mattr – I’m going to pick you apart a bit. But I don’t mean any offense of course.*

    “Do you realize there are some cultures out there that actually DO force feed their women to fatten them up… because it makes them MORE beautiful?”

    I’m assuming you’re talking about Mauritanian culture. Did you know that young girls are force fed then beaten when they vomit from the force feeding? And who are they more beautiful for? If they were eating because they wanted to, maybe to themselves. But I’m guessing with the force part, it’s for other people’s pleasure, such as their families and society. And then you say, “there’s nothing awful about that either.” So yeah, no guesswork involved. You’re insensitive with a dash of completely oblivious.

    *”Taking offense where no offense is meant is one of the worst parts of our society today.”

    My boss said something similar right after he said I had nice tits and I had the gall to tell him to stuff it. Not meaning offense does not mean a person or an industry gets a free pass for using the ‘magic words’ just like prefacing a statement with “I mean no disrespect” doesn’t mean you get to act all surprised when people feel disrespected. Maybe the company didn’t MEAN to offend anyone, but they did. So now they get to deal with the fall-out. Such is life when you’re an adult.

    And maybe it will be a good thing for people to want to save a fat princess. It would be better if they had a game where the fat princess saves herself.

  49. borland502 says:

    Your article contained an informative perspective. However, why make spurious claims of a desperate publisher and a dead platform? Sony greenlit “Fat Princess”, but they also gave a go ahead to some decidedly creative games such as Flower, Eden, Flow, etc.

    Indulging in gamer-like smack talk lowers the intellectual threshold of the article as a whole. Granted, you’re probably just venting spleen at any target in range of this game, but diving off the moral high ground by pointless sniping is unnecessary.

  50. Captain Obvious says:

    “Fat” isn’t being played for laughs – offensiveness is. That’s the point. Slightly offensive content is, as a general rule, considered humorous, at least to those people who are not directly offended by said content.

    They made it offensive on purpose, so it’s pretty silly offering up “inoffensive alternatives” that are supposedly “just as good” because they are, by way of their inoffensiveness, NOT “just as good” in every role as the current design of the game. The goal was, in part, to offend.

    So, in review:
    It was included as a design aspect because it is humorous. It is the fact that you are offended that *makes* it humorous. Thus, you may want to reconsider your strategy for tackling this issue before pounding out any further rants, since your present strategy really only servers to make the ‘offensive’ content that much more amusing to those who are not personally slighted by it.

  51. bmiller says:

    Fat Princess reportedly allows each player to choose a male or female avatar, so it’s possible for an all-female army to rescue the princess. Another blogger inexplicably described the game as “heteronormative” in contradiction of this fact. Can anyone think of another game in which one woman rescues another?

  52. Donder says:

    Why is it that everyone automatically assumes they’re making fun of fat women? No one considered that any number of the developers could actually be fat admirers, or feeders. What if, they chose this particular way of projecting the gameplay mechanic not because of it’s (apparently) innate hilarity, but because they are really fond of the idea and the act of rescuing an obese maiden? Or is it just too outrageous that someone might actually find a fat woman attractive?

  53. Hank says:

    @ Catnik,

    I never said the game doesn’t objectify women, simply that it isn’t as anti-fat as the other article made it seem. If you want to “translate” what I said through a filter of hate and bias, be my guest. Twisting my words doesn’t change the original intent.

    Captain Obvious seems to be one of the few people who actually gets why this game features a fat princess. The princess part is there because it draws upon the rich history of video games, and the fat part is there because it’s mildly offensive and therefor funny to the target demographic of males in their teens-20s.

    The worse this bickering gets the more people talk about it, and the more it promotes the game you’re speaking out against. Level-headed discourse about the subject may not get as many hits, but blatant flame-baiting only spreads the word for the publisher.

  54. Pingback: Here Ya Go « The Essentia Sphere

  55. roses says:

    Do you realize there are some cultures out there that actually DO force feed their women to fatten them up… because it makes them MORE beautiful?

    This game wasn’t developed in or marketed to one of those cultures.

    Granted, that’s not the western stereotype, but there’s nothing awful about that either.

    Nothing awful about what, exactly? Finding fat women beautiful? No. Finding thin women beautiful? No, as long as fat women are still treated with respect. Force feeding girls? Yes. There is plenty wrong with that.

    Do you all honestly think they made the choice of a fat princess simply to piss off people that might buy their game anyways?

    No, they made the choice of a fat princess to give people who think fat is funny or disgusting (the majority in our society) a laugh. They assumed it would draw in more customers than it alienated and they are probably right. (Although interestingly enough, somebody below who is on your side does honestly think that.)

    Taking offense where no offense is meant is one of the worst parts of our society

    Because taking offense is so much worse than being offensive! I see this one all the time. Talk about privilege.

    Or is it just too outrageous that someone might actually find a fat woman attractive?

    Don’t be disingenuous.

  56. Sam says:

    Are there any female soldiers in the game, or is the only female in the game the fat princess? I’m just wondering. I didn’t pay attention to E3 this year so I’ve never heard of this game. The game sounds fun and creative (the gameplay, that is) but the subject matter is suspect. But, my reaction to the fat princess concept will vary depending on whether you can play as a female soldier or not.

    Obviously, if the only female in the game is an immobile princess without control of her impulses, I won’t have much good to say about the game’s portrayal of women. The concept of force feeding a captive woman until she becomes immobile has way too many creepy undertones for me.

    But if the fat princess isn’t the only woman in the game, if players can choose to play as female soldiers (which would make sense in a multiplayer game like this) then I wouldn’t be as offended. The force-fed captive female idea still makes me uncomfortable, but as long as she isn’t the only representative of the female gender in the game it’s not as bad. And, actually, I would probably interpret the “fat princess” as a commentary on luxury and royalty moreso than a commentary on fat people.

    Other than that, I can’t really make much of a decision about the game without knowing more.

  57. SarahMC says:

    Even if there are other women in the game, the game is still problematic because it distiguishes between Acceptable Women and Unacceptable Women. Feminism aims not just for equality between the sexes, but equality among people of the same sex. That would mean that thin, pretty white women are not viewed as superior to women who do not meet conventional beauty standards.

  58. Donder says:

    To me, this seems as nonsensical as the arguments behind Resident Evil 5. Do people honestly believe that the lead designers, or any of the developers are earnestly trying to infuriate their potential market base? Can someone honestly say that they believe the people at Capcom intentionally chose Africa because of its’ population’s skin color? In the same manner do you really believe that the intent of these developers was to catch a crap load of flak? I think we should keep in mind the phrase “Do not confuse malice with ignorance”

    However, my point of view assumes they were not intentionally trying to hurt feelings. If malice actually is the reason they decided to do this, than there is no question that this sort of behavior is reprehensible. I just believe that before we start throwing stones we need to first find if the person(s) on trial are actually guilty of a crime.

    Regardless, I wish I had a PS3 to buy this game, despite the alleged sexism and size-intolerance it looks to be an excellent game. And until it comes out I’ll do my best to replicate this gameplay in Halo 3.

  59. SarahMC says:

    Donder, I don’t think anyone has suggested that the game’s creators designed it in a certain way in order to offend people. Presumably, they designed it because they know there is a lot of money in mocking fat people. There is a difference.
    I would guess that the folks who are offended by this game are upset because fat-hate IS profitable. It’s depressing that the game maker’s market is reliably insensitive to fat people and women, even hostile.

  60. ooshrooms says:

    Excuse me. I meant “affect people.” Thanks for picking apart my grammar rather than clearly addressing the real issue.

    Well, so far criticism of “Fat Princess” has struck me as nuanced and well-grounded within trends of feminist theory and criticism of how differences in body weight are portrayed in popular media.

    Unfortunately I haven’t seen significant well-grounded criticisms of the game itself. Could you please point them out? I’ve seen criticisms of the status quo and some assumptions about the game.

    Holly has me half on-board. I’m just lost on a couple assumptions and what I perceive as shifted blame.

    Fat Princess… has been getting a lot of word-of-mouth buzz in the last week… It’s because of the fat chick!

    Ok, now if it continued to be a complaint about how the gaming populace has immature tendencies and how the giggles about the princess’s weight are inappropriate I’d be with you. I do not believe this game has received the type of attention it should. However, I don’t think the game itself is causing problems.

    As the complaints move to the game itself I think poor assumptions are made about how this game will ultimately affect people.

    Look, the humor here is not that hard to understand… Fat Princess is a send-up of that tired old cliche.

    I’ve already explained how I think, as a satire, the major target is the industry and not fat girls. You stopped and got offended before you reached the logical conclusion. Anyone who wonders why they are saving the fat girl and then stops thinking is an idiot. They’re anti-fat without the game, and they’re no worse with it. At least this game will make some people think about their negative views and maybe change them.

    By the same token, it’s not like games with fat characters have to mock them or reinforce stereotypes like “fat people can’t move on their own” and “fat people will eat anything you put in front of them.

    I don’t think it’s really mocking them. She is a captive held under armed guard. I’d imagine her “gluttony” is not a lack of self control but determination to not be executed. It’s not funny because the princess is eating cake. It’s funny because one piece instantly expands her by a couple hundred pounds. It’s absurd.

    I’m not sure it’s really a stereotype that fat people can’t move, since it’s grounded in physics. She’s not chubby but morbidly obese. Based on the size of her compared to the soldier in that pic I’d say she’s at least 600lbs. People that size have difficulty moving around especially going from one castle to another across a battlefield. It’s not a joke.

    The sad thing is that the game doesn’t even need this fat chick schtick in order to be a good game.

    True, but good gameplay mechanics don’t always create success. Adding pretty graphics or a good story helps. Again, if the comment were about how gimmicks are needed to sell, I’d be with you. You’re attacking the specific gimmick that they chose. I would like to give them the benefit of the doubt and say they chose the absurd technique of keeping a prisoner as whimsical fun and a poke at a cliche rather than making fun of fat women.

  61. ACC says:

    Aoutch. I’ve read it all… my head hurts… I guess you think too much for me. Anyway, I personally didn’t though this game was about making fun out of “fat people” or “fat women” unless you mentioned it. Word.

    But I understand why this is offending, thanks for explaining your point of view. I’ve seen so many complain about content of video games lately that’s I just cannot understand what’s the point anymore. I do not pretend to know what I’m talking about but I doubt complaining will change anything (although you may have been urged to talk about it, as I said, I completely respect your opinion).

    I like products that can just forget those stereotypes. No One Lives Forever, Beyond Good and Evil, a few adventure game (point ‘n click especially). Even some of Resident Evil’s female characters can take care of themselves too (well, when the series was still Survival-Horror style). But let’s face it, sadly, common audience *needs* clichés because they’re used to it and it’s easier to “get”.

    Again, thanks for explaining your point of view.

  62. Pingback: It’s Not “Just A Game” « random babble…

  63. Hmm, this is a tough one for me. The gameplay looks really fun – I love class based multiplayer games (Hello, Team Fortress 2).

    The thing is, if I look at this game on its own merits, just the game itself with no knowledge from the rest of the industry or other games, it makes me smile. Not because ‘lolroflfatchick’, but because you have to time the cake-feeding right or else her tummy gets sore and you can’t feed her more cake, or the fact that when you have to take her back to your castle she actually finds she enjoys sitting around and eating cake and you have to lure her back to her castle with more cake while she silently resents you.

    (I’m still new to the Fat Acceptance movement, so if this still puts me in the same realm as the rest of those ridiculous kids, I’m going to need to rethink this… but I don’t think that what I posted above is the same as mocking every fat person around me. I’m pretty chubby myself, and it still makes me smile.)

    What gets me is that this is part of a larger picture. Sony in particular has been absolutely terrible to women gamers and women in their ads. So this isn’t a silly oneoff from a vast library of games ranging from feminist-friendly to guilty-pleasure, this is just one more turd in a barrage of shit aimed our way.

  64. Margalis says:


    The reason “token fat guy” is a sidekick in that god-awful Not Another Teen Movie. Because fat people are automatically jolly and hilarious, right?

    NATM was great and the token fat guy was a take-off on the Varsity Blues character. It wasn’t funny because fat people are automatically funny, it was funny because the makers of Varsity Blues seriously believed that fat people are automatically funny.

  65. Ryan says:

    We really need to clear up this issue and the misinformation, assumptions, and ignorance surrounding it. We need to pull back and look at the bigger picture to see just how trivializing comments like yours are towards the feminist movements.
    Don’t get me wrong.. I know where you are coming from. It is that reactionary gut feeling that “something” is wrong with it.. largely just because saying the name “Fat Princess” in your head brings up feelings of guilt and insecurity. You then immediately look for words to justify your gut reaction without once giving a moment’s pause to evaluate if your concerns are actually valid or not.

    I am totally open to discussion on this topic and so I’ll address you, in order, point at a time. If you have anything to say back to me please take the time to write a decent reply. I’ve had far too many people belittle me and insult my intelligence without actually pointing out anything valid or attempting to address specific statements in the past 2 days to hear it all again.

    First you ask why the game has been getting a lot of buzz and then conclude it is because of the fat chick, because fat chicks are hilarious.
    This conclusion is really not fair to the game’s designers or else you could just whip up any ol’ pile of software shit, throw a fat chick in there and instantly generate positive feedback. This game has generated a lot of buzz for a combination of elements. Some you name, others include the simple yet seemingly brilliant alteration to the classic CTF gameplay formula and the fact that a simple PSN game is going to offer 32 player, class driven, online deathmatch for a presumably low price.

    Quite simply.. I, for one, have never found “fat women” “hilarious” and yet I was immediately drawn to this game and filled with excitement over it’s potential.
    That pretty much breaks your theory right there with regard to why this game is appealing.

    You then make mention of the trolls that two other sites have had to deal with since mentioning this game. First off.. I can only imagine how immature and horrible some of these posts must have been. It is unfortunate that so much ignorance is given a voice on the internet. Which brings me to my next point. Melissa over at Shakesville had it coming. She didn’t post a single intelligent or well thought out word on the matter, heaped on plenty of sarcasm and profanity and topped it off with a terribly immature picture of herself looking unkempt and miserable giving Sony the middle finger. In my opinion she is just as bad as the trolls who then come spray their venom all over her comments section.

    Feminism is a movement.. not a clique. It is not fair to call yourself a feminist or speak for the cause if you are not doing what you can to spread awareness and change minds. The point of a movement is to have it move. With that in mind any intelligent feminist could tell you it is important to make your argument attractive to non feminists. As a self labeled feminist it is then one’s responsibility to approach these matters carefully and intelligently. One of the biggest hurdles any movement has to overcome is negative stereotypes associated with their cause and as such it should always be one of the foremost things on a speaker’s mind when addressing these issues.

    We all know the negative image most people have of feminists. Hairy, bra burning, man hating, overweight, homosexual women who spit angry venom at innocent male passerbys and pass judgments on their girlier acquaintances.
    Truth is, that a few of those adjectives aren’t inherently negative but tend to paint a negative picture in most people’s minds when associated in this way.
    I know this may seem ironic to you but Melissa posting a picture of herself, an overweight woman, looking unkempt and disheveled (even the framing of the picture lends to this perception) with a very unpleasant look of her face and giving a middle finger.. this is exactly the kind of thing that reaffirms people’s misconception on what feminism is all about.. and as such does a huge disservice to the movement.
    Yes.. other feminists may view that and appreciate it.. almost like and inside joke.. but that isn’t the demographic the cause needs to be winning over now is it?

    Now let us skip ahead to where you point out the humor lightly buried within the gameplay mechanic. Starting with the cliched “save the princess” idea I have to say you are right.. and as a matter of fact you are now talking about something a little more credible as a “problem.” Saving a girl is something you can actually argue as reinforcing negative stereotypes. That ends up being a different discussion that then relates to tons more games and media than just this one title. For the record my opinion on the matter is that in it’s “historical context” it merely recognizes old stereotypes as opposed to reinforcing modern ones. I’m of the opinion that erasing our history and culture are not positive steps towards creating equal opportunity for all.
    So we are back to why “fat” is the problem with this game…
    this is where you just squeeze in your own random interpretation without any fact or even reasonable cause for your conclusions.

    “The joke here is also obvious: LOL who would want to rescue a fat chick? It’s a shtick that’s been used in animation and film plenty of times; the dashing hero thinks he’s rescuing a beautiful damsel in distress, but the “joke” is on him because it turns out she’s larger than acceptable! And therefore unattractive and a horrible burden for him to rescue, of course.”

    I know the joke your are referencing here.. I have seen the animations and silent films myself. The problem is that the only associating ties between this game’s theme and those old sketches are in your head. First of all there is no indication that there is any disappointment on the part of your character or team as to the largeness of your princess. You are merely assuming and projecting that upon the game.
    The only real world tie between what you are saying and the facts known about the title is when you use the word “burden” which is, of course, even more so related to the mere physics of the matter than the comedy you reference.

    You yourself start to dissect your own argument immediately afterward..
    “In Fat Princess it’s not an unexpected surprise, but more of a prank that the opposing forces play on each other.”

    But once again this is a matter of perception.. or what you are wanting to perceive.
    It is not a “prank” so much as a device to ensure the other team does not rescue their princess. Were it a prank, would it not make more sense to kidnap her, fatten her up, and then send her back as the punchline??

    “Because women are helpless in the face of cake, of course, she just eats and eats. And of course, absolutely anyone who eats a lot is going to balloon up into a spherical caricature of a heavy person, right? That’s how fat people get made! And of course she’s so heavy that it takes a whole crowd of soldiers to carry her! Because that’s what fat people are like! The cartoon-logic is impeccable. It’s also very recognizable, from a long history of our culture mocking the fat, blaming fat people for their bodies, perpetuating all sorts of bullshit about fat. It’s so recognizable that it doesn’t really need to be explained to anyone who has a problem with this kind of mockery.”

    Wow.. now you are just injected whatever the fuck you want into the game’s design.. which clearly came about as a result of the conspiracy against fat people.

    The first thing to remember is that this isn’t a game about a fat person. (Despite the name of course) This is a game about a person you can make fat. There is a difference. All of those typical perceptions you bring up aren’t being referenced by the game itself.
    She is not eating cake for her own enjoyment.. she is being force fed cake by her enemies while being kept in a dungeon. In the realm of this video game’s world there is no way one could conclude that her weight is a product of her own design. There is no blaming fat people for being fat here.. you are transplanting that idea from the outside world into this video game. And I’m sorry but did you just try to sarcastically insinuate that there is no relation between obesity and overeating or am I misunderstanding you??

    Finally I’d like to point out how you’ll gladly stuff all sorts of negative stereotypes into this game that aren’t there to begin with yet you just glaze over people’s assertion that the fact that you are saving her regardless of her weight as a childish defense.
    I find that very hypocritical. No matter how small or seemingly trivial something is you’ll include it in your argument is it is negative. And yet someone points out that the whole aim and theme of the game actually subtly lends to acceptance and positivity regarding obesity and that is somehow irrelevant, or, sorry.. “ridiculous?”

    Lastly.. I appreciate that some people put the effort into suggesting alternate ideas for the game… really? A velcro princess? That just sounds stupid. At least cartoon logic can make sense out of fattening her up.. that makes sense in most people’s minds as soon as the concept is introduced… but velcro? I’m not sure what the game designers want every time someone is introduced to the game is to have them ask “why the fuck are we sticking things to her with velcro?”

  66. Ryan says:

    Nolittlelolita.. Sony has absolutely nothing to do with the invention of this game design.
    Just to clear up that bit of misconception there.

  67. Xerophyte says:

    Mattr, did you seriously just say there’s nothing wrong with force feeding women so they look “hawt” for men? Are you fucking kidding me? You sound like John Doe from Seven, seriously.

  68. ouyangdan says:

    Well thank goodness some man tap danced in here and explained it all to us!

    Obviously his one opinion proves everything. I guess we can pack it up and go home.

    No, you are missing the point all together. A game is making light of something that is representative of a larger issue. If we just glaze over the fact that it’s “just a game” then we have no ground when it comes to attacking the bigger and very real problems it portrays (IE, forcing a woman to do anything against her will, the fact that it’s so funny b/c now they can’t save her b/c she is so fat! Fat is soooo very bad!). When you let the little things go, then you eventually justify the slightly less little things, and then they gradually get bigger.

    And the velcro princess thing could have been a big hit, since a similar game (was it Katamari?) was such a huge hit it was hard to get a hold of. No, making fun of a fat princess was not the only way to go here, clearly.

  69. Ryan, correct me if I’m wrong, but this is a game exclusive to the playstation network. If the Playstation Network works in the same way as WiiWare, that means developers have to pitch the idea and concept to Sony in order to earn a dev kit – which means that Sony would have thumbs upped the idea.

  70. Ryan says:

    Well all games put onto any platform have an approval process whether they are downloaded or not. I’m not saying that the developers slipped this in under Sony’s nose.. I’m saying that they didn’t come up with the idea because Sony as a company doesn’t like women. Which you seem to imply.

  71. Sony may not be twirling their mustaches, throwing ladies onto traintracks and cackling about how much they hate those uppity women — but there’s been a lot of really shameful stuff coming from them. The “Your Girlfriend Bores You Shitless” PS2 ad campaign, the cover promoting the PSP which featured a woman in a bikini taking a dump, the ad campaign boasting that Sonic and Sonic 2 would be the ‘hottest pair on the beach’, with lots of cartoon boobs everywhere, the infamous pie graph they showed that showed that only 4% of Playstation Network subscribers were women, the God of War launch party with topless women serving wine to attendees in Greece, the ‘cheaper than a girlfriend’ PS2 ad campaign, the “no nerds allowed!” PS3 ad campaign where frat boys woo women by offering them a spin on the PS3 all cast stuff that has the Sony name on it in a completely different light. It’s hard for me to get overly riled about Fat Princess with no context, but it really just doesn’t seem like Sony gives a shit about attracting women to their consoles and don’t really care about alienating them if it’ll sell another five copies of Killzone.

  72. Sam says:

    SarahMC: You could view it as a separation between acceptable and unacceptable women, but the reaction I immediately had after hearing about the game was that it made a separation between acceptable and unacceptable lifestyle. I understood it to be a joke on the gamers not because the princess being rescued is fat, but because the princess is being rescued at all. The fat princess is a symbol of royal family apathy and overindulgence, and one is forced to ask himself (I’m just going to use male pronouns to refer to the gamer, here) why he is going through the trouble of saving this person who is so disconnected from the real world. When has the princess ever been worth saving?

    As far as I’m concerned, the joke is on the gamer for toiling away for so many years, in so many different games, just to save the princess. In this game the player risks his virtual life for the princess while the princess just eats cake without a care, to the point that she is so immobile she cannot even hope to rescue herself.

    I think it’s funny. I think it would be funnier if the entire royal family (or more of the royal family than just the princess) were represented in this way.

    Beyond that, you can still say there’s an issue with fatness being used to represent sloth. This doesn’t bother me very much in this case, because judging from the screenshot Holly posted, the fat princess’s “fat” is so comical as to be meaningless to me in any sort of real life context. They aren’t calling a 150lb princess fat, here, they’re calling a rolly-polly nearly spherical princess fat. I think it’s too far from reality to really elicit many body-image issues.

  73. Anna says:

    Ryan, did I misunderstand you? Did you basically argue that Melissa “had it coming” because she wasn’t pretty enough in her picture? If she had been someone you found physically appealing ou would have been okay with it, but because she’s not primping for the camera before giving it the finger it’s not good?

  74. Ryan says:

    Anna, you definitely misunderstood me there.
    I’m saying she had it coming due to her approach to the situation. As opposed to this site and Mighty Ponygirl’s take on the situation which was a little better thought out and presented. I’m not talking about her weight or attractiveness as a person.. I’m talking about the lack of interest she seemed to have in taking the care to make her argument valid and attractive to people who may not already see things from her point of view.
    The fact that I mention her weight or appearance in that picture has more to do with the fact that those are things to be taken into consideration when you put your image at the forefront of an argument relating to a movement you supposedly choose to represent.

    My point was really that if you are going to try and further your cause you should do it with thought.. being that everybody knows the negative stereotypes associated with this particular movement it would be irresponsible for someone to not put some effort into not reinforcing them. You may view it as conceding when you have to present yourself (words as much as image) in an attractive manner to get you point across in a subject that deals a lot with body image but you’d be missing the point.
    No one should care what her weight or appearance is.. that isn’t the issue. I may never shave and often wear torn up pants and childish designs on my shirts as my personal preference.. but I don’t go into a work meeting in that state and start using slang and profanity that I’m comfortable using around my friends.

    Right or wrong.. the point is that people who already have this negative stereotype about feminists in their head visit that article they get greeted by a voice and an image that only serves to confirm that stereotype and therefor cause the visitor to immediately dismiss the issue. Her lack of effort and seeming lack of intelligence cheapens her concern and invalidates her whole cause to curious visitors hoping to better understand an issue they are not already intimately familiar with.

  75. Ryan says:

    …it bothers me in the same way as when I see some twerp gamer comment on an article about violence and gaming with words like “I hate when people claim there is a link between violence and video games.. people like that should have their heads bashed in.”

    It hurts the cause and people with stupid comments like that, who supposedly care so much about it, would really better serve it by keeping their comments to themselves.

  76. Pingback: Opinion: Do You have What it Takes to be a Fat Princess Feminist?

  77. Mircalla Karnstein says:

    Dear Ryan:

    Anyone who claims aomeone ‘asked for’ flaming/assault/verbal abuse/what-have-you is hopelessly naive and in blissful denial of the fact that the second he fails to toe the line, the /b/turds will have him for lunch next.

    Check out blindprivilege.com, and see if you get a little bit of a clue on.

    People in privilege do not get to tell epople outside the pantheon what they are and are not allowed to be offended by.

    Thank you Cleveland, we love you, goodnight.

  78. Ryan says:

    ouyangdan

    “Well thank goodness some man tap danced in here and explained it all to us!
    Obviously his one opinion proves everything. I guess we can pack it up and go home.”

    This is exactly the kind of unproductive response I’ve unfortunately come to expect from commenters on these websites. I offered my opinion just as the author offered hers and I am totally open to discussion on the matter so really.. was that necessary?

    And no, I am not missing the point. As matter of fact your whole way of thinking is ass backwards in my opinion. Focus on every small thing instead of investing that time to tackle real issues that are presently effecting women around the world in a negative way? Is what happens in this game really such a strong influence that it needs our scrutiny? If we don’t let the little thing go for fear that we’ll eventually let bigger and bigger things go we’d be completely occupied by inconsequential things all of the time and never make a dent in the larger issues. There are billions upon billions of little things.. all byproducts of larger issues. Think of it like an insect infestation.. if you go running off to kill every single termite that runs by instead of wiping out the colony you’ll never be rid of the pests.

    And what about freedom of expression? Are we so narrow minded in our goal that we’d sacrifice the other things we hold dear in order to protect society from potential negative influences? Should we censor and ban stuff because we are afraid it might have a negative influence or should we focus on educating people so that they can make intelligent decisions themselves and see games like this for what they are, innocent, lighthearted fun. Sure you could replace the fat princess with something else.. everything is replaceable. You could replace speed racer’s car with a bicycle and promote earth friendliness, you could replace Pac-Man with a square shaped hero too..
    The point is that someone came up with this relatively innocent idea, and in all likely hood with no intention to cause harm.. who are we to tell them that their creativity is not valid?

    I mean the fact of the matter is that it is ridiculous to assume we can demand that everyone be socially conscious in the first place. Everyone has a right to be the way that makes them comfortable. We hope that with time, information, and progress more and more people will be inclined to be courteous and kind and sensitive.. and those of us who are socially aware and feel so inclined should do what we can to promote that change. But not at the expense of our liberties and not by fighting inconsequential things with waves of negativity.

  79. Larry says:

    To start, I’ll admit to being both a man and a game developer. Flame away… :)

    I’m overweight myself and pretty sensitive about it, but I also think that no subject should be taboo when it comes to humour, however close to the bone it might be for some (including me!). I think there is a place for what is essentially a neutral depiction of a fat princess who is made fat or not directly because of the actions of the players. It certainly isn’t a positive depiction, whatever some people might be saying, and I find the whole force-feeding mechanic distateful (and am surprised that more outcry hasn’t been aimed at that).

    I don’t see that the game poses any positive or negative judgements on fatness beyond the obvious physical one that a fat person is harder to carry than a thin one, and I think we could all agree that’s true. Any judgement of that sort is in my opinion made based on the players own opinions or prejudices. But to those people who do thing the game is offensive, well, I obviously disagree but I am sorry about the response from many members of the gaming community. I’m not surprised of course, we all know what the internet is like, but I wish the debate was more civil…

  80. littlem says:

    It should be noted that overly-aggressive (on the internet) adolescent male fanboys are not the gaming community by a long shot. They have just managed to become the dominant voice of those communities by being aggressively rude, hostile, and insulting to the point where more sensible people bail.

    *reclines comfortably with her deadline on 783 other things to wait for the backlash*

  81. littlem says:

    And golly gee gosh, Hank showed up right on time, didn’t he?

    Is there something in the Bawls beverage that makes these guys just reflexively spout the party line in the binary?

  82. R.T. says:

    Ryan

    You wonder why you get cynical remarks about men tap-dancing into feminist spaces? Maybe you should check your privilege and also be aware of the fact that women often have to put up with men acting like the final authority on any subject on a routine basis. There’s a little rule you might like to adopt and follow when in spaces that aren’t you’re own, it’s called the shut-up-and-listen rule and if you only listened to what has been and is being said in a minority space you’d know that the discussions go beyond these “inconsequential things” as you put it. You’re acting like an ass.

    One thing you should know is that you also do not get to determine what should be important or not to minorities, especially in their own space. Perhaps you should trust that they do, in fact, have their eyes one the ball and know, better than you, what’s important. Yeah, at a glance a game might not seem important, but that game didn’t come out of a vacuum, and neither does to response to it. It’s all part of a bigger world and picture.

    I also seriously doubt you know anything about “freedom of expression” and censorship. Freedom of expression does not mean freedom from criticism. Criticism is itself a form of expression. You have a right to say something, and others have a right to call you out on it.

    And intent? It doesn’t matter what you intend. When you insult and mock people, even out of innocent intent, you’ve still insulted and mocked them. If you want to be responsible for what you say or do, you own up to it, own up to the power your actions and words have.

    It’s also a small thing to ask that people be socially aware. Minority groups have always had to endure the burden that society dumps on their shoulders so that the privileged classes don’t have to think at all about social awareness and the consequences of their actions and words. It’s disproportionate. It would be so much easier for everyone to be aware and make the little changes necessary to accommodate everyone else than it currently is to have the people in which society favors to do nothing and know nothing and everyone else to have such a crystal sharp awareness for it.

    It’s a sad thing that we still live in a time when a male will more likely get listened to than a woman and I write this to you in a feeling of apprehension that I may be contributing to the problem. But I do so anyway, because you, Ryan, are flaunting the same god-damned privilege here that I have to choke on in my spaces and about subjects I deem worthy of discussion in relation to my status as a minority.

    Try shutting up and listening. Also, get a clue.

  83. Anna says:

    Ryan, it’s not like Liss posted it to a gaming website. She posted it to a feminist website. A lot of the crap that gets put up on a gaming website wouldn’t be appropriate to another forum. She didn’t need to write out a well-thought-out argument to folks who are not her audience. She didn’t go to a bunch of gaming websites and say “Hey! Look at my awesome takedown of this game!” She didn’t link to a gaming website. Someone else linked her post there – for malicious reasons.

    I don’t go to gaming websites and demand feminist critique of the games they’re reviewing. (I go to feminist gaming websites for that.) I don’t think gamers should go to a feminist website and demand she present herself in a way gamers find appropriate before she’s allowed to say “This game sucks.”

  84. You know, Ryan, here’s something that bugs me:

    My site was trolled, too. Not as “badly” as shakes because I just shut down comments. Had I let them go, I would have had just as many nasty, abusive comments for daring to point out that Fat Princess used a game device that I found troubling. People felt that the best response was to hurl insults at me — insults about my (supposed) weight, some even went so far as to just write “FAT N-GGER BITCH” over and over again. (obviously, they didn’t censor it).

    I wasn’t saying “This game is the most horrible thing evar.” I was basically saying “I find it disappointing that a game with such good core game mechanics felt the need to bash on women and the overweight by making them the butt of a joke.”

    Where is the outrage at how I was trolled? If, as you say, my response was “a little better thought out and presented” than Shake’s angry response, why is it not only accepted but encouraged to come to my site and behave in such a way? The gaming community is way too eager to troll feminist blogs, even when said feminist blogs are, by their very titles, pro-gaming blogs. We were even trying to develop a new game in the comments before the thread got trolled, and that was completely shut down by a bunch of jerks who felt the need to hurl slurs and shut down any discourse about how a game might have troublesome imagery. Does that resonate with you? People who supposedly love gaming shut down a thread that was attempting to design a game.

    They’ve done this with discussions of Resident Evil 5.

    They’ve done this with discussions of Grand Theft Auto.

    Nowhere on my site do I advocate the banning of the game, even those that I think are incredibly misogynistic. All I’m trying to do is create a space for like-minded gamers who wish to talk about games in a space that respects them.

    For people who want to talk about gaming as a means exerting their privilege over women and minorities, there are roughly 2 billion sites on the internet that give them carte blanche to do so.

    We don’t troll their sites, but they feel perfectly entitled to troll ours.

    And yet, the question has again returned to, “what did Pony or Shakes DO to deserve this,” which is about as subtle as “Well, what was she wearing?” The question is not what we did or didn’t do to ‘deserve’ this sort of treatment. The question is why this sort of treatment is so widespread on the internet, and why not one major gaming site seems interested in combatting it.

  85. borland502 says:

    “Ryan, it’s not like Liss posted it to a gaming website. She posted it to a feminist website.”

    I get your point and RT’s point about invading space and being a guest. I hesitated before my first post. But the internet is not private, and feminist blog or no, the comment system is open to the public. You can’t hold a town hall meeting and declare posts made in good faith to be verboten. Yeah he’s on a soap box, but so is nearly everyone on a forum.

    Ryan is a man, as am I, and therefore not the target audience of these sites. True. But unlike the gaming masses that have been derided in this space, he did not take a particularly hostile tone. It’s not a tone you agree with still, but shouldn’t you be debating his points rather than attacking him? At the very least just ignore or delete the posts.

    And frankly, his comparison with Melissa’s posts and this site are fairly worthy points to make. Not because they are automatically fact, but because it speaks to a larger point. These sites are not “minority spaces” walled away for private discussion. They are public. What is said here, on Shakes, and elsewhere is visible to the world. Refuting one stereotype by confirming others is not helpful to changing opinion. Think of how easy it is to dismiss say, Jack Thompson. Violence in videogames might be a worthwhile topic, but he’s hurt his cause badly by his approach.

    Dunno, I do feel uncomfortable making posts here for many of the reasons RT outlined. But attempting to silence dissenting opinion doesn’t seem right when the main complaint is that society isn’t listening to your concerns.

  86. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    Ryan: As matter of fact your whole way of thinking is ass backwards in my opinion. Focus on every small thing instead of investing that time to tackle real issues that are presently effecting women around the world in a negative way?

    The use of effect as a verb is rather like nails on a chalkboard. But this certainly is not a zero-sum game. Hang around here and you will see plenty of posts on economics and domestic violence.

    Is what happens in this game really such a strong influence that it needs our scrutiny?

    Not the game as such. But as Holly points out this particular game is part of a larger phenomenon in which fatness is played for comedy, and THAT is part of an ongoing discussion here and on Shakesville with Wall-E and Kung Fu Panda critiqued as well. To turn this around, why should a site that has hosted an ongoing conversation regarding fat and culture (73 posts in total) NOT point the critical lens at Fat Princess? Isn’t refusing to subject games to the same kinds of criticism that have been pointed at advertising and cinema dismissing games as irrelevant?

    And what about freedom of expression? Are we so narrow minded in our goal that we’d sacrifice the other things we hold dear in order to protect society from potential negative influences? Should we censor and ban stuff (blah blah blah blah blah blah blah) who are we to tell them that their creativity is not valid?

    Well, it seems that you want your cake and eat it too. You want the freedom to say what you want, and the good feeling that no one is ever going to voice disagreement with your statements.

    Not one person has demanded that the game be pulled from the market. The only people standing in direct opposition to freedom of speech are people like YOU who take the position that these criticisms shouldn’t be pointed at games.

  87. Anna says:

    Have you read the comments over at Feminist Gamers & Shakes? These are not folks giving nuanced responses with thoughtfulness. These are people spewing hate and bile. If some folks got caught in the crossfire of that, it’s unfortunate, but heaven knows the internet is large and if you want to write a nuanced response to Shakes or Might Pony Girl, you can find a space to do that.

    Yes, I know, it’s the internet. But the amount of garbage spewed out at Liss and Mighty Pony Girl is way above and beyond.

    Also, “silencing dissenting opinion”? borland, you can go anywhere on the internet and express anything you want. I’m not going to hunt down your website and demand your ISP take you down. I’m not going to come to your home and rip your keyboard away from you if you don’t agree with me. I feel fairly safe in saying that no one else here is going to either.

    However, no one owes you an audience. You’re free to say anything you want. I’m free to call it out if I want to. I’m free to ignore you. I’m free to ban you from commenting and delete everything you say in my own space. None of this is “silencing” you, because you’re still free to speak all you want anywhere you want. Just not in my living room. (I am, of course, not a mod here, but that’s the way things are in my space.)

    There seems to be this strange idea that some folks have that they are owed my audience for their anger. They are not. You can go write to your own audience. If you don’t want to hear what I have to say, you can ban or ignore or delete or anything else you want to do with that. Because I am not owed your audience, either. Nor am I owed your time or energy.

  88. roses says:

    I’m not talking about her weight or attractiveness as a person

    Yes you are:

    Melissa posting a picture of herself, an overweight woman, looking unkempt and disheveled (even the framing of the picture lends to this perception) with a very unpleasant look of her face and giving a middle finger.. this is exactly the kind of thing that reaffirms people’s misconception on what feminism is all about.. and as such does a huge disservice to the movement.

    You seem to basically be saying that those feminists who are fat and don’t conform to beauty standards should hide in the shadows so people don’t think feminists are fat and ugly. So seriously, fuck off with your concern trolling. Who the hell are you to tell feminists how to run our movement?

  89. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    borland502: Dunno, I do feel uncomfortable making posts here for many of the reasons RT outlined. But attempting to silence dissenting opinion doesn’t seem right when the main complaint is that society isn’t listening to your concerns.

    Doesn’t that first require to have an opinion that isn’t total bullshit prima facie?

    What obligation does Liss have to entertain vapid insults and attacks on her as a person (of which, Ryan as made several.) And there is a key distinction which renders Ryan’s sophomoric attempts at moral equivalence moot. Flipping the bird at a shareholder-owned multinational corporation for creating a product that you don’t like, is a fundamentally different act from the rather personal photoshop harassment and personal attacks this discussion has generated, including those made by Ryan.

  90. borland502 says:

    “What obligation does Liss have to entertain vapid insults and attacks on her as a person (of which, Ryan as made several.)”

    None of course. Perhaps I have not read enough of his posts, or I’m not sensitive enough to the subtext for the ones I have read. I saw some of the most recent and thought there were some valid points.

    My own intent is benign I hope. I still disagree with many of the conclusions over “Fat Princess”, but these articles have been interesting reads.

  91. Anna says:

    Woe, my amazing and super comment is currently in moderation. /woe

    borland, may I ask – why did you feel the need for us all to know you were a man before expressing your disagreement? Did you think it mattered?

    I’m often confused by why men do that. I’m impressed you didn’t make any random “Please don’t kill me” comments added to that, which also seems to be part of the pattern.

  92. Q Grrl says:

    “But unlike the gaming masses that have been derided in this space, he did not take a particularly hostile tone. It’s not a tone you agree with still, but shouldn’t you be debating his points rather than attacking him? At the very least just ignore or delete the posts.”

    But why? Why do we have to ignore him or delete his posts?

    Why do the terms of hostility and tone get to be set by men, specifically men who have no working knowledge of feminist theory (or the obvious need for such theory)? Don’t you think a claim to authority in a space you’ve never inhabited in regards to a theory you haven’t researched is a grossly hostile action? How do women benefit when tone is set as the hallmark of intent (i.e, men’s civility), rather than expressed content (authoritarian claims to validity stemming from a source that has no working knowledge of meta-content)? Finally, why does the gamer’s *identity* as a gamer carry more weight (the voice of authority) than the expressed lived experiences of the women posting on feminist blogs?

    In a nutshell: men cannot bring a good-faith argument *against* feminist critique; all such arguments are not only suspect, but inherently hostile. When men, as a class, opt out of top-down power hierarchies, especially those based on women as the sex-class, then men’s arguments will be in good faith and an honest exchange of ideas can ensue.

  93. Iggy says:

    This article was way funnier than it should’ve been simply because of the American Apparel ad on the side.

    Way to put that objectifying patriarchy to shame.

  94. SarahMC says:

    Ryan, feminists generally do not appreciate or need instructions from those hostile to the philosophy of feminism re: how to best reach our goals.

    Here’s the thing:
    Those who are hostile to feminism will focus on a feminist’s appearance in an attempt to dismiss her opinions no matter what she looks like.
    If she’s fat and “unkempt,” they will use that against her, as though it has anything to do with what she’s saying.
    If she meets conventional beauty standards, they will talk about how awesome her tits are, how she’s too pretty to be aligned with feminism, how she should be a good girl and get on her back, etc., etc. They will describe in detail what they’d like to do to her sexually (usually with some violence thrown in). If you’re a woman, it does. not. matter. what you look like – your views and opinions are disregarded and your looks are picked apart instead.

  95. Iggy says:

    “If she meets conventional beauty standards, they will talk about how awesome her tits are, how she’s too pretty to be aligned with feminism, how she should be a good girl and get on her back, etc., etc. They will describe in detail what they’d like to do to her sexually (usually with some violence thrown in). If you’re a woman, it does. not. matter. what you look like – your views and opinions are disregarded and your looks are picked apart instead.”

    Um, example?

  96. Pingback: What Would Matt Do » Fat Princess is hate!

  97. Q Grrl says:

    Lordy! I just caught this gem from Ryan:

    “Focus on every small thing instead of investing that time to tackle real issues that are presently effecting women around the world in a negative way? ”

    What makes you think we’re not doing both? Why do you assume that we aren’t doing both? My opininon? Your argument/logic would fail if you had to admit that feminism is doing both, sometimes simultaneously.

    What is a real issue anyway, Ryan? Men don’t tend to like us discussing rape culture, domestic violence, unequal pay, or pornography any more than they like us discussing the “small things”. Pray tell, Ryan, what should we talk about? And once you’ve come up with a list, Ryan, please tell me by which authority you speak? Does your authority stem from the brilliance of your own analytical mind, or does it stem from the social messages you’ve willingly accepted based on your genitalia? Why is your voice the default and ours just the small, trivial, mewlings of the fat, shrewish, unkempt she-bitches?

    Really now, don’t you see the irony? You attribute almost mythological dimensions to women’s opinions and voices all the while trying to trivialize the things we speak about. Your fear that we might not focus on the “appropriate” issues is only mirrored by your desire to get us to shut up in the first place! How deliciously transparent.

  98. Evan says:

    You know, I’m a little confused by a lot of the bickering. On one hand, I can see where the criticisms of the stereotype of the “man saving the princess” are coming from. On the other, I feel that it’s a little irrelevant. Mario and Zelda are less about “rescuing the princess” and more about intensely difficult level design (Mario) and exploration and understanding (Zelda). Games have always been about game play. There are messages inherent to a lot of games, like Metal Gear Solid 4, and I can see the areas where there could be some criticism. But really, I think a lot of this is just people trying to find issues. MGS4, for example, had the Beauty and the Beast corps. I personally found the Beauty and the Beast corps to be a unique and interesting idea. The boss battles were fun, and the second fight where they shed their armor was to get across the effects of war. The fact they were all beautiful women could be taken as “war affects EVERYONE.” There were only one or two things in that game that had me going “What were they thinking?” The B&Bs were not one of those things.

    As for Fat Princess, the criticism I see I can understand, but I don’t really agree with (For example, I can see how overweight people could be offended. However, I am not about to take up the overweight person’s cause). What I really don’t get, though, is why it’s such a big deal. As with Mario and Zelda, this game is less about the characters and more about the game. Could they have made it a flag? Sure. How many people have done that? Just about everyone who ever posted a flash game on UGOplayer or Newgrounds. Originality is everything now in the games industry, and this game is certainly that.

    I also feel that this argument is a bit like the Jack Thompson crusade against game violence. You’ve found one part of an otherwise fantastic game, latched onto it, and have begun to milk it for all it’s worth. Will games cause people to objectify women and make fun of fat people? Not anymore than games cause violence. Sure, there may be a few cases, but the majority of gamers aren’t going to model their life after Fat Princess or Dead or Alive #, just as most gamers don’t model their lives after Metal Gear Solid or Devil May Cry.

    Also, as mentioned before, it is confusing to me to see people complaining about something and asking for more consideration when they also write things like “So seriously, fuck off with your concern trolling. Who the hell are you to tell feminists how to run our movement?” (roses). Granted, not everyone does that, but several posts just immediately discredit opinions because of gender or because they stated an opinion contrary to the one in the article. As, also mentioned before, this is the internet, and the internet is public. If you wanted to talk about something privately, as so to discuss it where your opinion is the only one, I suggest mass e-mail, forum PMs, or chatrooms via any instant messenger client. Posting a blog post will only get you publicity, as it did with GamePolitics (that’s how I found out about this). So when something gets attacked on a blog, of course the people who like the victim are going to want to defend it. I am one of those people. It’s kind of like how Cooper Lawrence ignorantly misspoke about Mass Effect and then proceeded to get her book’s rating destroyed by retaliation (for clarification, the connection in the public aspect, not the ignorance).

    And another thing:
    “Hmmm, people certainly like the artwork, but that’s not exactly it. Is it the fact that you and 31 of your friends can run around a little medieval landscape, bonking each other with swords, building fortifications, and capturing territory? No, that’s not it either!

    Oh wait, that’s right. It’s because of the fat chick!”

    Where are you discerning this from? Seriously, where? I listen to several gaming podcasts, am part of a few gaming forums, and ALL the praise for this game is exactly what you said it ISN’T. People are interested in this game because it looks fun, not because there is a “fat chick.”

    I, for one, will buy Fat Princess as soon as it comes out because it looks amazing. The graphics are slick (I’ve always loved cell shaded graphics) and the game play is phenomenal. The class system, controls, and objective are all so simple, yet the developer managed to make it incredibly deep and complex at the same time, through risk/reward situations. Should you fatten your princess up to make it harder for the other team to win? Should you focus on defense? Should you focus on offense? These are the kind of things that make Fat Princess the stellar title it is being sold as.

    In summation: I certainly don’t know everything, and maybe I’m misinformed on some things. I do know, however, that I disagree with the sentiment that this game is wrong in having a “fat princess.” I find it a small point that has been blown way out of proportion.

    Note: I did not intend to offend anyone with this post. If I have done so, well, that’s your own problem. I won’t apologize for what I wrote just as the author won’t apologize for what she wrote. It’s what we believe in. I’m not really part of the feminist movement, or the movement for overweight people (I forget the name). I’m just a gamer who is interested in this game, giving his two cents.

  99. Q Grrl says:

    “It is not fair to call yourself a feminist or speak for the cause if you are not doing what you can to spread awareness and change minds.”

    Ryan, can you list your top ten favorite feminist theorists or top ten most read theorists?

    Didn’t think so.

    It’s not “fair” [insert whiney male voice, if you will] to try to speak with authority (and demand compliance too!) when you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    A good place to start, for you particularly, is to meditate on the fact that women don’t “call” themselves feminists. They are feminists*. Got that?

    *no, not all women, sillies, just those that are.

  100. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    And what makes this even more absurd? Some feminists are avid gamers, and some gamers are feminists. What’s really being said here is that one can’t be a gamer and present feminist critiques of the games we play.

  101. SarahMC says:

    Well, Iggy, Feministe’s own Jill Filipovic is subjected to that treatment all the time – both by trolls who visit this blog (sometimes she shares the comments/emails she receives) and men at her law school.
    It happens to Jessica Valenti from Feministing just as often.
    It was almost impossible to get a good discussion going in comments when she blogged at The Nation; some guys just wanted to talk about the picture that accompanied her piece.

  102. Feminists can be gamers? Gamers can be feminists? I call shenanigans! And further, I’m beginning to doubt your commitment to sparkle motion!

  103. Simplejewel says:

    Holly – Amazing post. I’ve missed your snappy, clever responses.

    Clueless WW – Great discussion point. I had never thought if that way and you’ve got me thinking…

  104. borland502 says:

    “borland, may I ask – why did you feel the need for us all to know you were a man before expressing your disagreement? Did you think it mattered?”

    Well, it was a side reference to how I’m not part of this site’s core audience. Since one of the posts I referred to explicitly covered that topic the statement did not arrive out of the blue. My very first post made no reference to my gender because it wasn’t germane to the point.

    As far as the generic “don’t kill me” sentiment, be fair. That isn’t a “man” thing, but generally a passive form of heading off objections by dismissing them before they can be made. I’m sure more men utter it on this forum than women, but that doesn’t make the attempt gender specific in general.

    I’m not sure what else to say on that point. I’m pretty sure I’ve been a good net citizen on this forum so far, so asking the regulars “not to kill me” should be unnecessary anyway.

  105. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    And is it just me, or is there often a repeated pattern to how this comes about:

    1: A feminist blogger spends one post out of several in a day criticizing some pop-culture phenomenon.
    2: A site where most threads average 20-30 posts gets more than 2,000 responses from the outraged, many of them direct personal attacks.
    3: The attackers then blame feminists for making a big deal out of trivia.

    So really, who is making a big deal out of trivia?

  106. SarahMC says:

    In addition, Iggy, many women commenting on this thread, as well as women you know IRL, have dealt with it. Feminists and non-feminist women alike.

  107. roses says:

    Um, example?

    Check out this post and this post. Jessica is a conventionally attractive woman who makes an effort to look nice for a picture and she gets accused of using her breasts for attention, gets called a Hooters girl, and is subjected to discussion on how hot she is and how big her boobs are. Melissa is a fat woman who doesn’t make an effort to make nice for a picture, and she gets dismissed for not being thin and presentable enough.

  108. Anna says:

    Thanks for answering, borland, but I think you’ve missed something important.

    When you say “Well, it was a side reference to how I’m not part of this site’s core audience. ”

    Who is this site’s core audience? It isn’t “women” – many women I know think Feministe is teh_ebil. Men aren’t immediately shown the door – PhysioProf isn’t exactly the only guy posting on the site, and there are quite a few folks who are men who comment here, and quite a few folks whose gender I don’t know who comment here because their handles are gender neutral, and folks who I’ve probably assumed are male or female but have assumed incorrectly.

    You don’t need to identify yourself as male in order to say “I’m not this site’s core audience”, unless you assume this site’s core audience is female. I think this site’s core audience is feminists and feminist allies. Men totally fall into that category.

    That aside, you’re absolutely right re: the “Please don’t kill me!” comments. I hate them, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen you make one even though I have seen you ’round these parts. I’m sorry for referring to them in reference to your comment, since that wasn’t fair.

  109. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    Evan: What I really don’t get, though, is why it’s such a big deal.

    Who made it a big deal. The handful of feminist bloggers who made relatively modest individual posts out of the dozens that go live on Shakesville and Feministe in a given day? (Including multiple articles on the Presidential election, sexual violence, economics or advertising.)

    Or perhaps its the legions of fanboys who have flooded those forums in the last 48 hours?

    I also feel that this argument is a bit like the Jack Thompson crusade against game violence. You’ve found one part of an otherwise fantastic game, latched onto it, and have begun to milk it for all it’s worth.

    Well, first of all I’d like to point you to the sidebar where you will find that there have been 73 posts (as of this comment) discussion issues of discrimination and negative media portrayals of fatness. This is the first to my memory that discusses the issue in the context of game design.

    Secondly, WHO actually is milking this? Is it Shakesville that has devoted less than 5% of its front page posts to this issue over the last 48 hours? Is it Feministe which has a total of one thread on this topic so far? Or is it the thousands of fanboys who have been flooding these forums, making stupid comparisons to Fred Thompson, and spamming links to dozens of message boards?

    Posting a blog post will only get you publicity, as it did with GamePolitics (that’s how I found out about this). So when something gets attacked on a blog, of course the people who like the victim are going to want to defend it.

    Oh, now this is really stupid. Media products are now “victims.” How is Fat Princess any more of a victim here than Operation Darkness which gamespot calls “ugly and frustrating?” The nature of freedom of expression is that ideas are open to criticism, satire and ridicule. The game can’t be a victim, and the people who produce the game need to suck up and deal with criticism.

  110. borland502 says:

    ‘You don’t need to identify yourself as male in order to say “I’m not this site’s core audience”’

    Nah, I didn’t assume this site was all female, but I felt it safe to assume they were the majority. Perhaps it was unnecessary addendum, but I made it without any intention of wielding the statement as a shield.

    And no worries, I took no offense to anything you said. While I did object to RT’s definition of this site as “private” I also realize it’s not my platform and the issues are not as near to my heart. Besides, as a lover of RPGs, Anime and all that dorky stuff I can easily see the issues you have with the depiction of Women. Since getting married I’m all too aware of the Anime dynamic of big breasted hotly drawn women congregating around one guy for attention. I still enjoy them, but the eye rolls of my spouse and wry comments of “let me guess, they’re all after that guy” are not logically refutable. She loves watching the RPG stories, but it’s hard not to feel embarrassed when an obvious wish-fulfillment scenario comes up in them.

  111. Evan says:

    CBrachyrhynchos: “Who made it a big deal. The handful of feminist bloggers who made relatively modest individual posts out of the dozens that go live on Shakesville and Feministe in a given day?”

    The post on Shakesville was not “modest” and was an open letter to Sony. The fact that it had a picture of her giving the finger to Sony, and that the language used is less than polite makes it less than modest. And, when it gets reported on GamePolitics, I figure it’s a big enough deal. Also, this blog wasn’t very modest, either, with remarks on how the PS3 sales will “limit” the sale of this game.

    Also, when I used to term “victim” I guess I meant “target of criticism.” Also, I feel gamespot has a bit more experience with qualifying games than a feminist blog does, to be honest.

  112. shorter Evan: Leave the gaming to the pros, girls.

    :rolleyes:

  113. Anna says:

    Oh, Evan.

    There are, in fact, feminist gamers. They write critiques of games from a feminist perspective, because they are gamers. Mighty Ponygirl writes Feminist Gamers – you can find a link by clicking on her name in her comment. Cerise Magazine critiques cames from a Feminist perspective, and it is written by gamers who are also feminists (or feminists who are also gamers). Holly is a game designer. She wrote THIS post. Tekanji is going to school to be a game designer. She is also a feminist.

    How much credit does one need before one is allowed to say “this game sucks”? And is it possible that folks who are criticisng this stuff are actually part of the audience of gamers?

    Do I have to flash my gamer cred before I’m allowed to say “this sucks”? I certainly didn’t need to when I declined to buy a Wii.

  114. SarahMC says:

    Oh god, Evan. A feminist blog is pretty effing qualified to deconstruct media from a feminist lens, whether it’s movies or video games.

  115. Q Grrl says:

    Evan: qualifying the game for what though? Some dude’s ability to enjoy it? Weird.

  116. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    Evan: The post on Shakesville was not “modest” and was an open letter to Sony. The fact that it had a picture of her giving the finger to Sony, and that the language used is less than polite makes it less than modest.

    Ohh, read in context. But again, even if this was the case, where is the freaking scandal? Much worse has been said about Sony on a much more frequent basis by key figures in the gaming community. Penny Arcade for example is well known as a Sony critic. I don’t see an equivalent uproar over their calling a Star Wars writer a “jackass” or talking about Blizzard’s “Goddamned, motherfucking tabletop minis.”

    Also, when I used to term “victim” I guess I meant “target of criticism.”

    Ahh, but “targets of criticism” only become victims in this context if the criticism goes beyond criticism, to the level of libel or slander. And that is a very hard standard to prove.

    Also, I feel gamespot has a bit more experience with qualifying games than a feminist blog does, to be honest.

    “Qualifying games?” What the fuck is that supposed to mean. If you are not interested a feminist critical analysis of media, then what the heck are you doing here, and why do you even care?

  117. SarahMC says:

    CBrachyrhynchos, a couple of MALE bloggers wrote criticisms that were similar to Liss’ and Mighty Ponygirl’s, but *crickets* they did not receive an influx of trolls to tell them how stupid and ugly they are. Weird.

  118. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    Its not that Mellissa trashed a game, or that she criticized the publisher. Game reviewers and players do this all the time.

    Its not that she used bad language and a finger to do it. Game journalism and discussion boards are loaded with bombast, flames, and salty language.

    It’s certainly not that she threatened regulation or the market for the game.

    So what is really the issue here?

  119. Roxie says:

    Congrats Evan. You’ve made this thread all about you.

  120. Pingback: Sexism? In my games? It’s more likely than you think. « Jade’s Musings

  121. Jay@racialicious says:

    Anna,

    I’m often confused by why men do that. I’m impressed you didn’t make any random “Please don’t kill me” comments added to that, which also seems to be part of the pattern.

    Hugo actually talked about it here:

    http://hugoschwyzer.net/2006/05/25/words-are-not-fists-some-thoughts-on-how-men-work-to-defuse-feminist-anger/

  122. Ryan says:

    Wow.. lots to address here. I’ll take it one at a time I suppose.

    Mircalla Karnstein,
    Okay you got me there.. obviously no one deserves the kind of awful hateful things that have been said in the comments sections. I do use a bit of exaggeration and just kind of pray that most people have the common sense to get at what I’m saying.
    The position Melissa took is one that is bound to attract lots of negativity.. the presentation of her view was so immediately appalling to most that one could, unfortunately, only expect it to be followed with an angry response.

    I am aware of privilege but unfortunately I don’t really fully agree with your rules associated with it or the blind assumptions regarding it. On top of being a fairly empathetic being who has spent much time listening to the problems of others, not once in my life have I been put in a situation where I’m automatically better treated due to my sex, wealth, or race. As a matter of fact.. in the society I live in the culture amongst the youth and middle age is a pretty equal treatment of men and women. (I live in Vancouver, BC Canada btw) I was born to a struggling single mother.. never had wealth, never had the same opportunities that others had. You think being fat and being a girl is so unique that a man cannot know what the ridicule is like? Do you think a man is treated fairly and respected for being under the average height? I’ll tell you from experience that I have been taunted, bullied by men, insulted, taken advantage of, and hurt by women due to my “substandard appearance.” Or what about trying to fit in with the testosterone party when you never had a parent interested in teaching you the “manlier” things in life.

    And I’m sorry but the idea here is that we all have equal rights.. which means that I have just as much right to give my opinion on the matter regardless of whether I’m “outside the pantheon” or not.

  123. Ryan says:

    R.T.,

    I don’t wonder why I get cynical remarks.. but I am disappointed by it.
    “women often have to put up with men acting like the final authority on any subject on a routine basis.”

    I’m sorry but from my experience PEOPLE have to put up with OTHER PEOPLE acting like the final authority on a routine basis. This is not a unique phenomenon. It happens to everybody and the dynamic of who is telling who is different all the time.. we can’t just extract one type of occurrence and call it sexist. It is human nature.

    If there was truly a “shut up and listen” rule I wouldn’t expect there to be a place at the bottom of the page to add my own comments. But once again here comes that elitist separation. First I’d like to point out that women are NOT a minority. Secondly.. what is this line of separation between me and the regular visitors to this site?
    DO I have to restate that feminism is a movement.. not a clique? As such a man has just as much right to call himself a feminist as a women should he honestly care for the cause.

    Just because I’m being critical of a critical response doesn’t mean I’m trying to say, “shut the hell up your not allowed to criticize this game.” As a matter of fact you already make my point for me…

    “Criticism is itself a form of expression. You have a right to say something, and others have a right to call you out on it.”

    Of course intent matters.. because people tend to misinterpret things. Some people get offended by merely anything.. we simply cannot monitor everything thing we put out in the world incase someone misunderstands it’s meaning and gets all distraught over it.

    “It’s also a small thing to ask that people be socially aware. Minority groups have always had to endure the burden that society dumps on their shoulders so that the privileged classes don’t have to think at all about social awareness and the consequences of their actions and words. It’s disproportionate. It would be so much easier for everyone to be aware and make the little changes necessary to accommodate everyone else than it currently is to have the people in which society favors to do nothing and know nothing and everyone else to have such a crystal sharp awareness for it.”

    I’m of the mindset that unfortunately at this point that just isn’t realistic. You can keep fighting against all odds to make something happen or you can try to adapt your approach so that it actually has some effect. Approaching things as if they already should be like your utopian final vision is just bullheaded and will end up wasting your efforts.

    “It’s a sad thing that we still live in a time when a male will more likely get listened to than a woman and I write this to you in a feeling of apprehension that I may be contributing to the problem. But I do so anyway, because you, Ryan, are flaunting the same god-damned privilege here that I have to choke on in my spaces and about subjects I deem worthy of discussion in relation to my status as a minority.”

    I think you are right. I also think though that you’ll find that your experience is not the same as everyone else’s. This world still has far to go in dealing with unequal treatment of races, women, etc.. but it has also come a very long way. Where I’m from sexism is met harshly in public spaces. Most employers are no longer rich old white men and thus only care about getting the best person for the job. The company I work for, the largest of it’s kind in the world, has a female president because she was the best choice for the job. And now every man associated with that company listens to her.
    So yes.. in many circles and places what you say is true.. but it also not the case in many other situations. I’ll listen to you.. and if I don’t agree with you it certainly isn’t because of you sex or race.. it is because I don’t agree with your argument.

    “Try shutting up and listening. Also, get a clue.”

    Thanks for that.

  124. And I’m sorry but the idea here is that we all have equal rights.. which means that I have just as much right to give my opinion on the matter regardless of whether I’m “outside the pantheon” or not.

    Ryan, you’re being wilfully obtuse here. It’s not that we silly girls lack the “common sense” to understand what you’re trying to get across to us, it’s that we see it as bullshit.

    When happened to Shakes and I was nothing short of a coordinated, encouraged effort to silence feminist voices because they didn’t fawn over a videogame that had a problematic depiction of women. This was not the sort of ridicule that happens to men and women in everyday life, this was war that was carried out against women who dared express an opinion. To say “your ideas are stupid” is pretty par for the course as far as online discourse. To have to slog through over 100+ comments in the vein of “I lol at this subjects of failure, also get back in the kitchen YOU ARE GIVING AIDS TO GAMERS,” that is not simple “everyday ridicule.” That is a statement and an attack discrediting not the ideas of the poster, but her gender.

    To try to say that the sort of trolling that Shakes and I received was just average ridiculing is being willfully ignorant to the effort and underlying message of the attacks.

  125. Jay@racialicious says:

    not once in my life have I been put in a situation where I’m automatically better treated due to my sex, wealth, or race. As a matter of fact.. in the society I live in the culture amongst the youth and middle age is a pretty equal treatment of men and women. (I live in Vancouver, BC Canada btw) I was born to a struggling single mother.. never had wealth, never had the same opportunities that others had.

    Privilege doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be rich and respected.

    But anyways, in general you don’t have to fear sexual assault. That’s “better treatment”. You’ve probably never been treated like a terrorist because of your race. That’s “better treatment”. But you don’t notice these things either.

    Anyways, this is a feminism 101 thing so I think this is off-topic.

  126. hahnchen says:

    Mighty Ponygirl may have attracted less trolling had she not accused everyone who disagreed with her misfiring views of being a sexist. And if you’ve ever enjoyed a film that portrays any race in an unsavoury light, you are a racist with a lawn jockey.

    The reason for the incredulous reaction from gamers is that because this just isn’t an issue. The game is so removed from reality; gamers see that the eponymous princess is nothing but a succinct intuitive way to capture an abstract game mechanic. The princess is no more a woman than the CTF flag is a woman.

    You’re right in that the fat princess isn’t needed to express this game concept. It’s by far the most succinct and effective way of conveying the core mechanic, far more intuitive than any of the Katamari Princess, far more creative than Fill the Chest. Everyone can understand the gameplay in one sentence, and it is a playful twist on the CTF mechanic.

    You won’t see any of these arguments in the Feminist Gamers blog, because apparently, it’s one of the rabid troll posts that Ponygirl’s been battling ever so hard against. Not that it will matter to her, she’s already played the “I’m not listening, history will judge” card, like scores of failed world leaders do when their house of cards finally collapses.

    —-

    Oh, and the reason that Fat Princess is getting more column inches than Castle Crashers, is that we’ve been getting column inches about Castle Crashers for at least a year now. Fat Princess is new, and had we not had this internet flame war, the game would probably have had even less exposure.

  127. hahnchen says:

    And the “Arm the Princess” idea falls flat on its face. The idea that players collect weaponry to create a walking tank princess doesn’t work, as you’re either giving by far the most satisfactory player role to the AI, or a single person.

  128. Holly says:

    Give me a break with your armchair game designer act. A fat woman is not the single most effective way of conveying this mechanic. It may not even be the best one. If you’re willing to just sit there and insist that it’s the absolute best way, no need to look for another, despite the problems people have pointed out, then you have no business doing game design, even from an armchair. I wouldn’t hire someone who insisted that their favorite way is the by far the best and most effective way to be an intern in my department, not if they refused to consider or come up with alternatives.

    Like you say, there are plenty of ways to do this mechanic. Here’s another one, just off the top of my head, devoting five seconds to the problem. Magnetic Princess: she swallowed a powerful lodestone, so now when you drop metal objects within ten feet of her, they fly onto and stick to her until she’s bristling with them like a crazy, heavy porcupine. One sentence, easy to understand. Does not involve making fun of a whole group of people who have historically been mocked.

    You know WHY the “fat” concept conveys itself so easily? BECAUSE it’s taking advantage of stereotypes and derogatory humor about fat people that’s been around for dozens of decades. It’s building on top of that existing history, which certainly gives it an advantage. But it’s a history that anyone who wants to be responsible on social issues — in this case the shaming, misinformation, and stereotypes about large bodies in our culture — is better off not taking advantage of. I could put a racist or sexist stereotype in one of my games too, and many people would “get the idea” quickly because it’s already embedded in our culture. Is it responsible to do that? Of course not.

    Also, the question wasn’t about column inches on Castle Crashers. It was about why there was a certain kind of “OMFG, HILARIOUS” reaction to Fat Princess that didn’t exist for another game with a VERY similar artwork style and theme. All of the OMFG HILARIOUS stuff was about the fat woman, that’s why. Can anyone really dispute this? After going through the Kotaku and Joystiq links at the top?

    As for Ryan — the whole sidetrack discussion of privilege and who posts on feminist blogs and everything that revolved around Ryan’s feelings on the subject is now closed. Ryan, feel free to come back on a different thread if you want to actually make a contribution and not derail with more side-arguments about how privilege doesn’t really exist and you’ve never had it better for being a white guy. That’s totally off-topic, and we’ve heard it a million times, and it rings just as clueless to me every time.

    On the subject of criticism and who’s “allowed” to review or criticize games and in what forums, I’ll probably do a follow-up post, because it’s an interesting subject. Films and books and other media have been critiqued from a lot of different points of view — feminist points of view among others — for many decades. It’s part of what makes a form of expression a mature medium — moving from simple “will this sell” reviews to a broader field of discussion, analysis, and criticism. Are games better off WITHOUT critiques? Is there a difference between a critical approach to a game or film, and the kind of censorship advocated by Jack Thompson or other conservative crusaders? One would hope so. More at 11.

  129. SarahMC says:

    “not once in my life have I been put in a situation where I’m automatically better treated due to my sex, wealth, or race.”

    Are you kidding me with this? Your privilege reeks. And I am not referring to class privilege. You can be privileged in some respects but not others. I am privileged, as a white person.
    You are privileged in that you are blissfully unaware of the things women experience, just for being women. Just because you don’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not happening.

  130. SarahMC says:

    Oops, sorry Holly. Did not read your comment until after posting mine.

  131. Medicine Man says:

    I would say that I get tired of defending gamers, but that would be a lie, as I don’t bother defending gamers for the most part. There is lots of screwed up and tasteless things in the game industry and much of it, due to acclimation, is pretty much invisible to denizens of gamerland.

  132. exholt says:

    Yeesh…took a look at Shakesville and Mighty Ponytail’s postings along with this one. If those trolls are the dominant voice of the online gaming community, then they aren’t that much different from some of the OS fanbois I used to spar with for not being “loyal” to Mac OS/OSX, Microsoft Windows, or the various flavors of BSD unix and linux. This fanaticism for computer hardware types and operating systems got tiresome after a while…especially when no criticism….however legitimate…would be tolerated by any devoted fanboi/gurl of said given hardware and operating system as shown by their angry online flaming and other vicious ad hominem attacks. It was also hard for them to wrap their minds around the idea that computer hardware/operating system agnostics like me do exist….and yes…each hardware/operating system has its good and bad points that can be leveraged for different tasks.

  133. exholt says:

    Holly,

    Wondering if you heard of this story and what are you thoughts about this and the video game/electronics industry:

    http://videogames.yahoo.com/feature/playstation-2-component-incites-african-war/1231745

  134. arne says:

    There’s so much debate on the specifics of the game and the issues at hand, that although we’ve mentioned it, we haven’t looked at the issue from a different direction.

    Would the inclusion of choosing a male or female prince/princess change anything? Does it fix the gender issue and the specific “fat women are ‘x'” issue? It still wouldn’t address the body size/image issue, technically, but would that simple choice alleviate anything?

    We’re also forgetting the option that one can play the game without ever making the CTF-object fat. Granted that is a game mechanic and it can aid in winning the game, but it is neither mandatory or a sure-fire way to win the game. Why are we not discussing the fact that we are given a choice and everyone just assumes that is the point to the game. The point to the game is to win at CTF.

    Also, I think the game mechanic of force feeding a woman at all is far more injurious to any sort of equality since it is, in and of itself, an oppressive action. It would still be oppressive regardless of gender.

    Lastly, we’re also not examining how this game could even be a turn on and extremely attractive to some segments of our society. I am talking about both feeders and in general about people who prefer their men/women larger than the “accepted norm.” Here we have a potential game player who is looking for an experience like this. Granted that’s not only a specific segment, but one that is on the fringe as well — yet we shouldn’t base our arguments in a way that is so exclusionary either. The key to being progressive is to be as inclusive as possible — all are welcome — so now we’re pushing these folks further into the fringe because we’re not accepting what they may like and be looking for. Just another thought.

    On a side note: The biggest issue to Shakesville’s post and why it was so ripe for the trolls is, as stated earlier, because the argument was not cohesive in parts or as a whole. The photo of the bird further devalued any of the good points that may have been raised. It came off, to folks who weren’t regular readers of the site, as an immature response to the game — something which the unsavory types were quick to capitalize on.

  135. arne says:

    Pardon, I left out part of my argument. In the third paragraph, at the end:

    … is to win at CTF. We should be exploring and opening a forum for discussion as to why, given the choice between not-fat/fat, people are seemingly unanimously choosing making the princess fat and doing so without thinking critically of why they are doing so — we can’t assume everyone are sheep who just follow the directions because “they told us to.” That’s just like the whole jump off a bridge argument — we know people aren’t generally that unintelligent.

  136. Ryan says:

    I’m sorry to everybody who directly addressed me. I assure you I did take the time to get back to each of you specifically but unfortunately my words are not valid enough to respond to your questions or assertions. (According to the moderators at least.)

    I understand that my part in this conversation has been taken off course by many of the comments directed at me so let me suggest this. Instead of banning me from sharing my point of view on the topic why not address my initial post directly? (I’m talking to you Holly.) Instead of invalidating my entire opinion why not have the confidence to explain to me how I am erring in my reasoning.

    If anyone would like to receive their response or continue this discussion in a civil manner please do not hesitate to contact me at rine@shaw.ca

    Otherwise fine, I concede. I have no idea what I’m talking about because I have a penis and haven’t studied feminist theory. So ignore my point of view, send me away from your elitist club and continue to whine and moan to each other in your own private corner of the internet. I personally don’t see how that lends to any sort of progress but perhaps the fruits of your labors will enlighten me in the long run.

    I’m obviously talking to the wrong group of people anyways if I expect some sort of reasonable and respectful discourse on a subject that HAD piqued my interest.
    If your mission is to ostracize the masses and keep the rest of us blind to your cause then give yourselves a pat on the back. You have certainly given me the impression that feminists are generally unfriendly people who don’t have enough interest and/or confidence in their own arguments to back them up.

  137. uriel-238 says:

    A Californian male’s humble twopence:

    Historical fairy tales abound with objectified princess prizes awarded to brave princes, clever tailors, sly thieves and such for outwitting the various forces of darkness, as oft in the form of wart-nosed wicked witches as Brit-eating giants or big bad wolves, and it is likely from this ancient archetype that our dear game designers thought of using a princess as a CTF flag.

    Less likely is their understanding that princesses in the times of the Brothers Grimm and before were often fat; not fat as in about to die from a coronary alongside thousands of other McDonalds superusers, but fat as in meat on her bones meaning she’ll survive the winter while serf families pray not to starve to death for lack of an abundant crop this year. Only in the twentieth century and since have augmented anorexic fashion models been the feminine ideal we teach to our boys. It is a recent thing to want girls to look like Barbie, and I’ve always imagined it to be a consumerist conspiracy after Twiggy, but all this is moot since the Fat Princess game designers didn’t have period accuracy in mind.

    So, is the game offensive? Of course it is. Not only does it perpetuate the objectification of women, and does it too soon (during an era in which common regard of women remains in flux, and in which the fight for true equality has been losing), but it does so in a medium and a subgenre that is directed at a community that is largly susceptable to this very kind of suggestion, namely young people who are still learning what is or isn’t appropriate in society. Racist, sexist and homophobic slurs continue to plague XBox Live to the point one has to twit half the players they cannot kick before it stops feeling like playing with a handful of larvae. The Hulk syndrome, where a valid argument is oft refuted with insults, threats of violence and threats of God’s wrath, continues to run epidemic across the internet fora. We, as a species, are going to have to get far more civilized before Fat Princess can be taken as lightly as was obviously intended by the game’s creators.

    So, is this game offensive enough that it should be pulled, or boycotted, or censored (not to be confused with being censured, of which it’s already been plenty)? Probably not. In the US, we prize freedom of expression to a rather high degree, and as per pornography, something has to have no artistic value whatsoever before its offense overwhelms its right to offend. Fat Princess is, controversy aside, an enjoyable game, and while it’s likely doomed to be a shameful pleasure for anyone over thirteen, a pleasure it will continue to be.

    NOTE: As a PC gamer who can’t stand standard console controls, I, for one, won’t be playing it.

    Would it have made a difference if the game had a French theme, and said princess was specifically credited to be Marie-Antoinette? (Set aside that she didn’t actually say the notorious phrase to which she was accredited.)

    It does also occur to me I’ve been witness to the flipped portrayal, whether it be from the Arby’s commercials that show obese men who can’t help themselves but stuff themselves, or the Carl’s Jr. ads “Without us, some people would just starve” (visual: guy confused about a raw potato), to the kids cartoons in which women are normally proportioned, but every single man is built like the Terminator. Sexism sucks.

  138. Q Grrl says:

    “Otherwise fine, I concede. I have no idea what I’m talking about because I have a penis and haven’t studied feminist theory. So ignore my point of view, send me away from your elitist club and continue to whine and moan to each other in your own private corner of the internet. I personally don’t see how that lends to any sort of progress but perhaps the fruits of your labors will enlighten me in the long run.”

    Ryan, I hope you’re still reading.

    This is my short primer on privilege to you: in this thread you had a total of 9 posts with 15 posts responding to you and your issues.

    Yet you have the balls (or delusion) to state that we are ignoring your point of view.

    Talk about conceit!

  139. a_z says:

    “I have no idea what I’m talking about because I have a penis and haven’t studied feminist theory.”

    Ryan- No one is saying that you don’t know what you are talking about because you have a penis, but people would say that you don’t know what you are talking about because you have never received negative attention as a woman (who, surprisingly, don’t own penises- funny that). It’s not that your are a man that people are attacking you, it’s because you are a man who doesn’t not understand that by the mere cooincidence that he developed with XY chromosomes, he has avoided a lifetime of harassment, discouragement, silencing, objectification, etc. that many (if not all) women have experienced. Other men have realized that, but you haven’t.

    You are privileged that when you get angry no one tells you that you are PMSing or being hysterical/overemotional/oversensitive. You are privileged that if you get attacked or harassed in the street, no one accuses you of responsibility because they believe you were wearing something too “revealing”. You are privileged because no one tells you that your entire gender is universally bad at math or science keeping you from being proud of your achievements and interests and eventually keeping you from pursuing a career in those areas. No one goes “Hey, name five male inventors and five male comedians” to prove that your gender is capable of success in invention and comedy. No one says to you “all you men will cry about anything”.

    Think about all the things you take for granted about being male. Now imagine if you weren’t male. That might give you some insight into why people are discounting your opinions- because they come from a position of privilege which you clearly have not examined.

    “You have certainly given me the impression that feminists are generally unfriendly people who don’t have enough interest and/or confidence in their own arguments to back them up.”

    Feminists are not generally unfriendly, but you may notice that some feminists aren’t particularly going to go out of their way to educate you if you aren’t open to what they have to say (good or bad). It’s not the job of feminists to educate you. If you really wish to understand more about their point of view (instead of dismissing it or using poor arguments against it) I suggest not throwing them all in the “unfriendly” sack and alienating them until they don’t wish to continue talking to you. How would you feel about having people treat you in such a way- going into your forum and combating with you from an inexperienced position? Kind frustrated? It’s frustrating. Give us some slack- we’re human, too.

  140. Roxie says:

    Ryan, did you not say that you thought we’re not as “qualified” to discuss games, gamers, and gaming as other websites? What did you base that on? But now you’re upset b/c we’ve told you that might not be “qualified” to critique our discussion due to your clear unfamiliarity with feminist theory?

    Being familiar with either isn’t dependent upon your sex nor your gender. Clearly, many of us here know and love games. Maybe you should take some time to learn about Feminism so you can understand where we are coming from.

  141. CBrachyrhynchos says:

    Nice troll flounce.

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  143. Anna says:

    I think flounces are the best part of the internets.

    I especially love return-after-flounce, which is even more fun.

  144. ooshrooms says:

    “Anyone who claims aomeone ‘asked for’ flaming/assault/verbal abuse/what-have-you is hopelessly naive and in blissful denial of the fact that the second he fails to toe the line, the /b/turds will have him for lunch next.”

    Actually countless people do ask for it. We call them trolls. They intentionally get people riled up by making unfounded and insulting statements or arguments. The gaming “community” is full of them. It’s understandable that someone exposed to these creatures would treat Melissa’s post the same way. Nobody deserves such shabby treatment. I just don’t think you should be too surprised by it whenever you publicly post controversial things such as calling out something as popular as ps2 and flipping off the camera. I have no authority, but I’m sure all reasonable gamers are with me in apologizing for the bottom dwellers from our medium heaping abuse into these forums and inboxes like so much excrement you’re not used to. Floods like that are really classless. It’s unfortunate that links to these three posts were linked to gaming sites, because this was really pointless.

    “Its not that Mellissa trashed a game, or that she criticized the publisher. Game reviewers and players do this all the time.

    Its not that she used bad language and a finger to do it. Game journalism and discussion boards are loaded with bombast, flames, and salty language.

    It’s certainly not that she threatened regulation or the market for the game.

    So what is really the issue here?”

    If she had posted that on a gaming site it either would be taken down by the site as inflammatory, or she would have been met with the same type of venom as she was at Shakes. That’s just the way the gaming community is. The PA guys get away with bashing companies like Sony, because in addition to their incendiary comics they post well articulated logical arguments. Holly and Mighty Ponygirl would mostly get a pass if they didn’t get lumped in with someone the mob thought “deserved it.” Again, I’m not defending them. I’m just trying to explain why it happened.

    “I wasn’t saying “This game is the most horrible thing evar.” I was basically saying “I find it disappointing that a game with such good core game mechanics felt the need to bash on women and the overweight by making them the butt of a joke.””

    I understand. I just wish this came across as a complaint about the industry rather than the game itself. It seemed like these posts were suggesting boycotts and protests of the specific game because the developer was exceedingly insensitive. Sony fans have been getting abuse from Microsoft and Nintendo fans for the past couple years, and you singled out Sony for a problem that spans not just the game industry but much of popular entertainment. I think that’s why so many gamers attacked.

    “Ryan is a man, as am I, and therefore not the target audience of these sites. ”

    I disagree. Most people with a cause (feminism included) welcome “outsiders” to come to their forums so they may impart knowledge upon them. Plus, as Anna points out, there are male feminists and females who are not. The regulars just expect those of us who have not spent as much time studying the field to act like we know as much about it as them.

    “It’s also a small thing to ask that people be socially aware.”

    I disagree. If it were small, then people could have spread the word years ago, and there would be no problem with it today. In theory it’s small, but that can be very tough for people who don’t think before they act i.e. the majority. Many people have come in here saying this game “isn’t a big deal.” That’s the whole point. In itself it is not. It is a small part of a larger pattern that is a big deal. The little things add up so much over time that when people want to change later on it’s very difficult. Bad habits and knee-jerk reactions can be very tough to break. Asking for social awareness is easy. It’s easy to comply for an hour or a day. It is tough to continually act fairly despite differences in gender, race, religion, etc. day in and day out unless you always have.

  145. Ryan says:

    well put ooshrooms

  146. Jenn says:

    You wonder why you get cynical remarks about men tap-dancing into feminist spaces? Maybe you should check your privilege and also be aware of the fact that women often have to put up with men acting like the final authority on any subject on a routine basis. There’s a little rule you might like to adopt and follow when in spaces that aren’t you’re own, it’s called the shut-up-and-listen rule and if you only listened to what has been and is being said in a minority space you’d know […]

    Any interest I had in discussing Fat Princess curled up and died days ago. Instead, I am wholly focused on everybody’s displays of outrage. I cannot bear to see one more comment in which a woman dismisses a man’s opinion by recommending that he “check his privilege.”

    I’ve written game reviews since 2005. In my transition from print to online, I learned some valuable lessons. Here’s one: if you want your critique of a video game to be credible, don’t be a girl.

    Very early in this comments thread, somebody pointed out how easy it is to be run off by the video game community. That’s true. Do you know why? Because some people think games are for boys only — it’s as infuriating an idea as games being for kids only — and when they see my byline, and they see something they disagree with, they want me to “check my privilege.”

    That’s because gamers strongly perceive themselves as similarly being part of a minority group or space. Within that community, it’s understood that the modern video game — together with its players — is often maligned, misunderstood, feared. There’s a strong sense of persecution there that, frankly, isn’t invalid.

    I think, too, there is a deep suspicion of outsiders. And people are defensive. They’re ready to tussle. When male gamers see a female blog against a game, it’s “yet another example of…” And when female feminists look at the game, or the bloggers’ ridiculously juvenile backlash, it’s “yet another example of…” That makes it easy for everyone on all sides to be dismissive of, not just arguments, but people, too. But feminism isn’t only for angry women and games aren’t only for boys or infantilized men.

    Reading over this, I think I sound insane. Rather than typing more thoughtfully, I’ll just click on ‘submit.’

  147. ooshrooms, my site is pretty regularly trolled by the gaming community. Even though I’m pro-gaming and anti-censorship, I *still* have to deal with extremely angry, insulting commenters who appear to have some sort of reaction to the word “feminist” that involves their eyes rolling backwards into their skulls, foam coming out of their mouths, and a complete inability to turn off their caps lock.

    It isn’t that Liss’s angry posting somehow “deserved” to be trolled, because the standard for trolling a site really is that it doesn’t celebrate white straight male hegemony and privilege. Unless your site allows fanboys to completely denegrate women, gays and other minority groups, you are seen as some sort of traitor to the glorious cause of gaming.

  148. Surgey says:

    Well I’ve read about all I can take now about Fat Princess. This Blog was my last stop. I first spotted the game while reading how Sony was using a certain metal from the Congo and it was now deemed their “Blood Diamond”. In the bottom corner of that article was a blurb that said “Feminists on a Feeding Frenzy about Fat Princess”. OMG say that 5 times fast. Anyway, as a feminist woman and a sorta gamer, I really only play World of Warcraft, but I’m intrigued by “Mirrors Edge”, I felt I had to get all the facts because honestly I know a man wrote that title about the Feeding Frenzy. Anytime women go on the offensive we are deemed erratic or gay or against having sex or some other retarded cliche that makes me sick to my stomach. I have learned to chose my battles wisely with men b/c too much offense causes insulting titles about Feminists going on Feeding Frenzies. SO here is my take. I really think that every feminist blog out there should TAKE DOWN the posts to do with this idiotic game. Ladies, this is not important and this only makes men think we are “Sensitive”. IT hurts our REAL causes such as being paid equal money for equal work (cos in case you haven’t heard we still aren’t). We should also save our web spaces for issues such as why Hillary didn’t become nominated (the real reason) and why women cannot serve in real combat in the military or why there are not more women who play video games. Fat Princess is so not worth our time or our energy to get excited over. Men look for the first chance to call us uppity and this is one of those times. Kill these threads and fill them with substantial issues like why there not as many women in the math and science fields as men.
    Thank you for your time.

  149. Cedar says:

    “I guess I must be an insensitive prick, but after reading three or four articles complaining about the fat princess in the game, I still don’t really get the extreme response it’s gotten.”

    I know! I can’t believe that all these sexist, privileged fanboys are leaving nasty comments (1800+ and counting), sending nasty hatemails, and generally getting all up in arms about people posting their own opinion on their own blog!

    oh… wait… that’s not what you meant, is it…?

    (sorry. i can’t read all the comments here. Holly, thanks for engaging with them, because I find that unexamined privilege makes my eyes burn.)

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  151. (non-blogging)Cara says:

    Men look for the first chance to call us uppity and this is one of those times. Kill these threads and fill them with substantial issues like why there not as many women in the math and science fields as men.
    Thank you for your time.

    *yawn* We have time for all of it, cupcake. Every. last. bit. We can talk about the sneaky nasty sexism/lookism/sexism inherent in lookism/etc. that exists in crap like Fat Princess, and move on to reproductive rights, and the nasty sneaky sexism that keeps women out of math and science jobs.

    And who gives a damn what the menz say oh noez? Honestly.

  152. Anna says:

    Why do I have to post only about Srs Wrld Issues when men can apparently blog about anything they want and still be allowed to have opinions on video games?

    The regulars just expect those of us who have not spent as much time studying the field to act like we know as much about it as them.

    oosrooms, this isn’t really directed at you n particular, it’s just a response to that comment of yours. I obviously cannot speak for anyone else, but you know what I expect of people who haven’t spent a lot of time studying/thinking/engaging with the ideas expressed?

    – Ask questions, but accept you aren’t actually owed an answer. There’s a Feminism101 blog that goes over some of the concepts of Feminism and allows questions.

    – Accept that folks who have engaged/studied/interacted with the issues probably know what they’re talking about. Whenever someone tells me that Feminists Don’t Game, I get very tired, being that there are multiple feminist gaming site, for example.

    – Consider the joys of lurking before stepping your toes in. I think I read feminist blogs daily for three months before I left my first comment. And reading should involve the comment threads – a lot of good stuff goes on in comment threads.

    – Consider also the idea that no one is really forcing anyone to read Feminst blogs. So, say this comment has completely offended you and you will never ever ever respect anything I have to say. There’s no law that says you need to come over my space, read my blog posts, decide you really hate that I linked to muppet videos today, and unleash a bunch of hate on how I’m Not Feminist Enough For You, or I’m Not Taking This Seriously Enough, or I’m Not Respectful Enough Of Your Internet Traditions. It’s okay, really.

    I really am a firm believer in respectfully asking questions and listening and considering the answer. Consider that you may not understand what the other person has said and ask for clarification. Also accept that the world doesn’t all have to agree. No one in the internet is going to come rip your keyboard away from you and use it to bash in your modem. You won’t be arrested if you don’t agree with someone’s blog post or explanations.

    Ryan, didn’t you flounce? I’m sure I saw you flounce. Perhaps I misunderstood you?

  153. Chelsea says:

    I love that the protagonist in Portal (part of The Orange Box, aka Half-Life) is a woman. You only see her in a couple of hazy reflective surfaces, and through portals if you place them correctly. She’s wearing actual, serviceable clothes! And looks to be a grown-up female, rather than the usual “girl,” (if that makes sense).

    AND it’s the most fun game I’ve played in years. That doesn’t hurt. ;)

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  155. mythago says:

    Why are we all being so nice about this? Gaming is overrun by men who have worse-than-average issues with women, and throw tantrums when you mess with their Revenge of the Nerds mental wankfest scenarios. The End.

    All the concern-trolling bullshit from the apologists here is simply a veneer to pretend that really, ladies, it’s your own fault if you don’t either spend all your time trying to look like a character in rape manga, or apologize and make yourself invisible. “Why don’t you talk about more important things?” from people are spending time blogging about VIDEO GAMES is such transparent bullshit, you could freeze it and use it as a windshield in an emergency situation.

  156. Sailorman says:

    Gaming is overrun by men who have worse-than-average issues with women, and throw tantrums when you mess with their Revenge of the Nerds mental wankfest scenarios.
    I played Diablo online for a while with a gender neutral name and a female character, and was amazed how much shit I got as a result. I can only imagine how much worse it is these days, what with better communications and games which have more opportunity for dickswingery.

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  158. catfishmaw says:

    I feel that you come close to getting the point, but, unfortunately and like too many feminist bloggers this week, you generalise and focus too much on the response of gamers to feminist outrage at this game.

  159. Leah says:

    mythago says: Gaming is overrun by men who have worse-than-average issues with women, and throw tantrums when you mess with their Revenge of the Nerds mental wankfest scenarios.

    Way to go. Meet misogyny with misandry. Intolerance with intolerance.

    I’m a female feminist gamer and you’re making it harder for ME to be taken seriously, AND offending my male gamer friends. Get off my team.

    Those who take offense to Fat Princess are being dangerously myopic, and taking aim at an easy target while ignoring the real problem. The game is obviously deliberately cartoonish and goofy. It doesn’t take itself seriously and as such, cannot be said to seriously perpetuate any misogynistic (or anti-fat) attitudes until such time as it actually expresses those views. Simply visually depicting a fat cel-shaded princess does not constitute an instance of misogyny, nor is there anything particularly offensive about the context of her captivity–it’s just a silly premise meant in fun.

    If the characters make degrading remarks about the princess, or if the princess magically turns into a thinner woman who lavishes sexual attention upon her rescuers, etc., then we’d have an issue on our hands. As it stands, all I see is a game of cute (and highly unrealistic) fun.

    For those who claim that this is more about the Fat than the Princess: would you also be up in arms if the gender roles were reversed, and armies of female knights were fighting to rescue a fat prince? Or would you praise the game for portraying women in a position of power?

    What irks me about this uproar is that my fellow “feminist gamers” are wasting time attacking a light-hearted game that does not appear to advocate any particular attitude toward the sexes, while ignoring games that DO advocate obviously sexist attitudes, AND which depict their misogynist worldview with a passing attempt at realism, which makes their poison more potent. I’m referring here to games like Dead or Alive, Tomb Raider, Grand Theft Auto, etc. (For the record, I enjoy many of these series, but that doesn’t stop me from criticizing their misogynistic aspects.)

    At worst, Fat Princess may be making fun of fat women, but I feel we are harmed far more significantly by portrayals of women as unrealistic, male-engineered sexual objects, a la Lara Croft. In contrast, a fat princess in need of rescue is a more positive female image than a buxom gun-slinger, because the former possesses a scrap of humanity (how fast can you name an overweight female main character in a game who isn’t a villain?), while the latter is a dehumanized figment of male fantasy who exists simply to please men.

    We have bigger fish to fry, ladies.

    By the way, I find the fat princess adorable. The first time I saw pics of this game, my boyfriend and I both said “Awwww!” at the same time.

  160. ooshrooms says:

    It isn’t that Liss’s angry posting somehow “deserved” to be trolled, because the standard for trolling a site really is that it doesn’t celebrate white straight male hegemony and privilege.

    Could you please explain your point a little more clearly? I think I understand what you’re trying to say, but the structure is confusing me. The first clause seems like an unfinished thought. I see what “it isn’t,” so I’m waiting to hear what it “is.” It’s like there’s a cause, a resulting state, and a false alternate state, and you expect the reader to infer the actual state instead of explicitly describing it. You give me too much credit. If it is necessary to respond to my post to begin with it’s because I couldn’t figure it out on my own in the first place.

    One other thing: By “standard for trolling” are you claiming a direct correlation between likelihood of being trolled and divergence from celebrating privilege?

    *edit*
    The regulars just expect those of us who have not spent as much time studying the field to notact like we know as much about it as them.

    That was a pretty significant word I omitted. Sorry for confusion Anna et al.

  161. Tom says:

    I think you need to rethink your postion re: big men. Barrett is just a large, buff, male, so if you’re considering him a representation of ‘big’ you also probably think that Lou Ferigno is ‘living large.’ And E. Honda is based on the sumo wrestler.

    When we look at actual fat male characters, we end up with people like Nintendo’s lardy spokesman Mario, who is ‘jolly,’ Wario who is the ‘angry fatty,’ the character of Eddie from Silent Hill 2 who literally is shown puking before his character turns into a psychopath later in the game, or the myriad overweight male villains in Dreamfall, Assassin’s Creed, etc.

    I would actually enjoy a list of fat male video game characters who embody positive values and don’t fall under the same stereotypes you listed. I assume men are covered when it comes to fat acceptance, are they not?

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  163. W says:

    I thought your post a pretty level headed response to this whole situation but that all came crashing down with this line:

    “…blaming fat people for their bodies…”

    I find the game concept in question to be a bit childish and immature but surely it is about a mile down the list of things that perpetuate stereotypes about fat people. Behind, let’s say, fat people…? Blame is an ugly word but surely it would be a mistake to allow overly zealous attempts at sensitivity to preclude us from assigning responsibility where it lies. The (mostly obese) zealots who point the finger everywhere except at the fat people are doing just as much damage as the fat-haters. And they’re not fooling anyone.

  164. Tim says:

    I’m a new commenter, but I think your site is good. Society needs people that keep watch on the sensitive issues and I think you do the job admirably when it comes to feminist issues. The only part of the post I want to comment on (because I think all the rest will be suitably hashed out by the rest of the internet) is this:

    “If you’re not a regular commenter on this site, you’re welcome to comment if you have something useful and new to contribute.” (Otherwise shut up).

    I just don’t think you need to spell it out like this. The fact is that anything to do with enlightening the mainstream to a set of values or morals is going to be controversial and spark debate. By setting up a site that works along these lines is to encourage that debate and provide a forum for public opinion.

    Setting up that forum and then blatantly telling people that they can’t say what they want to say is like setting up a democratic government and then telling a certain sector of the population that they can’t vote.

    As a longtime webmaster of a number of different sites, I know how irritating trolls can be, and it’s very frustrating to have a comments section be overrun by people hijacking the topic, but again, the fact is that if you can’t deal with that without enforcing a “silencing” policy then you shouldn’t be running a watchdog site like this.

    I doubt you will want to post this comment because it questions you and the way you run your site, and I’ll completely understand if you think this is a troll attempt.

    I assure you it is not. I respect your values and to a large degree, I agree with them. I’m a bit more relaxed about it than you, but I’m very glad you’re there to raise awareness to these issues. If you want to keep my comment from public view, I’d really appreciate a personal reply to the ideas in it via the valid email address submitted.

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  167. nattynebo says:

    People can’t avoid offending each other in these moden times. I was told that it was not a crime to use your imagination. This game is the product of a persons/people active imagination. As cheesey as it might seem, it sounds like a good game. I believe we all just need realize its “just a game” to keep people occupied. I don’t think the creators weren’t in the middle of a confrence to speed up global warming, hire insurgents to blow up Willy Wonkers Chocolate factory, or piss the ‘princesses of game land’ off by calling them ‘FAT’ and making them eat cake. Remember……….”ITS JUST A GAME!”

    :thank you

  168. John says:

    “But that’s probably too much to ask from a culture where fat women get treated like pariahs far more than fat guys do.”

    The same can be said about skinny guys. A skinny girl is usually a great hero (with usually more skin than armor(why even bother with armor then?)), while a skinny guy is usually a wimp.

    On a more actual example, me and my gf recently presented 2 of my friends to her friend. One of them was skinnier than a skinny girl while the other is well over 200 lbs. Well you know what? When my two friends were gone, the two girls were making fun of my skinny friend for being skinny! Large men are more accepted socially because girls accept them more, but a guy weighting around 100 lbs is hardly accepted by the average woman.

    If you say that I base my ‘average’ over 2 girls only, I’d like to point out that the guy is 24 years old and he has yet to date his first girl. He’s a nice guy and he’s nice to girls, it’s just that all the girls he meant were turned down by someone smaller and skinnier than them.

  169. Nicol says:

    I also have to say that I’m a huge fan of “Portal” for its portrayal of women — it’s a first-person puzzle game from Valve, whose plot is being woven into the Half-Life 2 series. You, the main character, are a woman named Chell, and the bad guy you’re after, GLaDOS, has a female voice. However, sexuality never, ever, once plays a role in this game — only smarts, on both your part and GLaDOS’. I think “Portal” might honestly be the most socially progressive game in gaming history.

  170. John — how DARE those women turn him down… he was entitled to them by virtue of being a nice guy! Grrrr! Let’s stop talking about the injustice of being mean to fat women IMMEDIATELY and start talking about the far greater injustice of women opting not to date a skinny guy! Holly! Holly, quickly, pull down this thread so that we can get right down to business addressing John’s friend’s problem of not getting the women he’s so rightfully entitled to! Even though there are women who date skinny guys, the fact that every skinny guy does not have his pick of underwear models to choose from must be addressed at this moment!!!1!!!eleven!

  171. blahblahblah says:

    I have trouble taking a feminist site seriously that allows American Apparel to advertise on their site. Sure they might not use “models” but pretty much all the women on their site are skinny and attractive. Doesn’t that type of advertising perpetuate the same kinds of stereotypes being discussed here? How can you be outraged by a game that makes fun of fat people yet allow a store to advertise on your site that won’t even put overweight people anywhere in their ads? Even the 2XL and 3XL section of their website are skinny girls. I guess the money was enough to allow you to ignore all this. I doubt you will even post this.

  172. hahnchen says:

    Holly: I did consider the alternatives, I didn’t think they were very good, in the same way that Lodestone Princess isn’t very good. These ideas are not as intuitive as Fat Princess. If I decided to switch careers and become an intern game designer, yes, I would have different suggestions at the interview along with my other lies. But I also take it that Titan got their interns to do the same, and I also take it that firms generally don’t want employees to waste their time looking for alternatives when they already have a great set up.

    I didn’t comment on the game at all during the E3 reveal. I don’t care about it, being without a PS3, means I won’t be playing it. I didn’t find it OMFG hilarious, I saw it for what it was, a game mechanic, not a realistic portrayal of a woman. But no, because there are those who obviously did find the concept funny, the concept should be killed. We should be compromising on concepts, because there are those who will take it the wrong way. You’ll find it very hard to find someone who’s world view of fat women will change due to Fat Princess. The ballooning weight due to being force fed by captors isn’t exactly your every day is it? You don’t think that players can distinguish this from reality? You think that this will continue to “misinform” everyone else about fat women?

    But then again, I didn’t think that the Snicker’s advert was homophobic – http://consumerist.com/5029752/snickers-makes-fun-of-effeminate-men-by-shooting-them#c6931151 , so clearly I’m blind.

  173. Michael says:

    You could see this as a parody in a different way though: The general “image” of a princess (be it cinderella or any one that came after her) was always that “hot chick” which was utterly helpless, now it isn’t.

    I am really not quite sure what the whole fuss is about though, so, you get to carry a princess around, she’s fat, she needs to be fed cake etc. It’s still a game. I somewhat doubt that any kid playing this will suddenly try to drag their more heavy set classmates around while feeding them cake, nor do I think it will result to (any more) ridicule than there is already.

    It is interesting to see though who comes out here, two sides of the same coin. On the one hand you have the people who claim it’s discrimination either because the character is fat or a woman or becaue it’s a fat woman (albeit a cartoon) and on the other side you have the usual rabbel that likes to make fun of others because they are deeply insecure about themselves.

    In my opinion this whole “debate” is utterly useless, a tempest in a tea cup and quite frankly it is almost hillarious to see both sides going at it, each of them solidifying the stereotype about themselves that the other side already had anyway. Way to go you two (sides).

    All of the people who go off at Sony or the studio for making this game should maybe pause and wonder why they are so upset about this, if you can’t laugh about yourself, you have some serious issues, so for both sides: Relax. If you don’t like the game (or the motive) then ignore it. If you think you need to go after people because of their appearances alone then maybe you need to take a look in the mirror and ask yourself what one could make fun of with yourself.

    Happy Gaming.

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  176. Tom says:

    I’m still waiting for a real list of positive fat male game characters. Saying they exist to make yourself more of a victim doesn’t mean they actually do and hurts all fat people by saying fat women need defending while fat men can be left to rot.

  177. Kyle says:

    As a Game Designer how would you feel if your new game the adventures of ‘A’ cup girl was forced to change the main character to a dominatrix with the body of Laura Croft all because of an uproar on the internets demanding it? Would you even be willing to make that change? Thinking that this request would be met with a stern-faced ‘fuck you’. On a more gender neutral issue how likely do you think the developers of Diablo 3 are going to respond to the petition for more color? The real question is, as a game designer do you think you should have autonomy or be ruled by the mob mass that is the intertubes? I am also a Game Designer and I personally hate it when people who don’t have a clue what they are doing dictate to me what I need to do, to do my job and these are the people that I work with. Now multiply that by the infinity that is the internets and you have the worst case of design by committee ever.

  178. Holly says:

    Tom – point taken about Barrett and E. Honda, although I think of them both as being closer to fat than prototypical muscular he-man types. There are some examples from Dynasty Warriors and Suikoden too. The “large but powerful warrior guy” is a common trope, especially in Asian mythology and classics, so it shows up a lot in games, especially Japanese. But I can see your point that these are not really fat guys, not like real fat people such as Chris Farley or even Jack Black. And if we’re talking about “large, but not quite fat, and powerful” characters, Elizabeta from GTAIV might qualify too — although I don’t think she quite escapes stereotypes, especially on other fronts.

    I am definitely not going to argue against the idea that fatphobia hurts both fat men and fat women — especially since I could not credibly claim to belong to either group. Men are absolutely covered under fat acceptance and are not immune to fat-shaming. Misogyny and fatphobia can certainly combine to pile up on and hurt fat women in particular ways that do not affect men, however. And that was the point I’m trying to make. In fact, a couple commenters that I didn’t allow through to this thread made that point explicitly, that they were fat guys and that it was ok for them to be fat, but that fat chicks are totally gross, blah blah blah. Of course they’re trolls, but this attitude definitely exists in society. Where are all the female equivalents of Farley or Black, for instance? However, at this point I think resources on sexim+fatphobia, and arguments about it, are better made by any number of actual fat, feminist bloggers though (see links in original post) than by me.

  179. Holly says:

    As a Game Designer how would you feel if your new game the adventures of ‘A’ cup girl was forced to change the main character to a dominatrix with the body of Laura Croft all because of an uproar on the internets demanding it?

    This happens all the time, there’s constant pressure INSIDE the industry and from the market, the audience, to make female characters sexier. No speculation needed.

    But look — I expect myself, and all game developers, to read this stuff (as much as time permits) and listen to people’s opinions. Then I expect me, and Blizzard, and anyone else making games, to decide for ourselves what we think has merit, what’s actually feasible and what’s not, what might impact our bottom line, and make some decisions. And I expect those decisions to include our ethics about what lines we’re willing to cross, how “exploitative” we want our work to be (Dead or Alive Xtreme Volleyball, anyone?) and all of that. Do I expect or want ANY game designer to just bow down and do exactly what everyone on the internet says? Duh, of course not. How could anyone want that? Where is that implied by anything anyone’s written? There is a huge difference between “I find this offensive” and censorship, between criticizing a work and pointing a gun at the creator’s head. For god’s sakes, nobody’s even said “don’t buy this game.” Heck I would buy this game if I had a PS3 and felt like I could stomach it.

    This is hyperbolic jumping-to-conclusions in a kneejerk defense reaction that’s only suited to the likes of Jack Thompson taking legal action against games — not to people writing critiques of game concepts on a blog. Games need MORE criticism and more types of criticism — not less. Criticism is not censorship, not by a long shot. Criticism helps media grow and mature and expand to more possibilities. I want ALL of my games to be criticized, ruthlessly and harshly. No matter what people say, of course I’ll keep making games. Being a creative person and putting your work out into the world is very much about hearing all those things, the negative and the positive, the political and the apolitical. All of it.

    More on this later. The aversion of game culture to criticism that’s about more than “is this game fun, did I get 60 hours of gameplay, are there boobs and explosions,” that includes political dimensions, other kinds of analysis, is definitely worth further commentary.

  180. Kyle says:

    Well thanks for calling me Jack Thompson. So you claim that all of the proposed redesigns of this game; Velcro princess, Treasure Chest ‘Princess’, and Arm the Princess are just hypothetical in nature? Not trying in anyway to influence. I don’t have any problem with you and the others not liking the content of the game. However, if you think that the combined outburst has just flown under the radar you’re probably wrong. I also am of the opinion that if this outburst influenced development and the game was changed you and your objectors would be SUPRIMELY pleased. But that would turn you into Jack Thompson then wouldn’t it? ‘She who hunts monsters…’ you know. Maybe one day when we both have PS3s we can both not play this game together.

  181. Alfredo says:

    women being upset over this game, is like war veterans being upset over call of duty and how you can play as a russian killing american soldiers.
    complain all you want, but this game will be released as planned with no adjustments, and people will buy this game, unfazed by the fact that your rescuing a fat princess. I doubt anyone would’ve even payed much attention to this as being offensive, if these feminist websites didn’t point them out. I’ll buy this game, play it for a while, and move onto something else, and life will go on.
    If your upset by the game, then don’t buy it, but please don’t spoil it for the rest of us, who are looking forward to this :/

  182. Rachel says:

    Okay, aside from the fact that the game will suck, the idea is very old and tired. When you strip away everything from it, it’s essentially a capture the flag game. Except you can make the flag slow down by adding weight to it. It’s not like I’ll buy the game anyway, but let’s see what we really know about it.
    You play (from what I can tell) a short angry little antagonist who’s purpose is to get the princess into his castle, meanwhile making sure the princess he already has can’t possibly make it out of the castle at all, or as slowly as possible.
    Now, I know this sends the wrong message about objectifying women, and that obesity isn’t exactly the healthy, the fact remains that there is no way you could possibly recreate this scenario in real life. At least, not without a well armed swat team visiting your castle to get your flag, and incarserate or neutralize you.
    If we are to believe video games are escapism, and that no real harm is done in them, no matter how violent or off color the commentary may seem, it’s not real.
    Besides, I remember hearing something about back in medieval times where a king would be weighed, and his weight in gold would be added to the treasury, or some such thing. Maybe this is just an offbeat version of something like that. I’m not saying it’s right, but it may have ties to some form of historical documentation. Maybe fattening up the princess is just a way to get your kingdom more gold, to create a better, or at least more well funded society. Yes it’s cruel, and yes it’s strange, but maybe this princess doesn’t have a choice, and this has always been done to royalty so she accepts it, knowing she’s making a difference in some way.
    Or I’m wrong and the game is just an over elaborate hybrid of capture the flag, and it will sell horribly as soon as people catch on to that fact.

  183. Truth says:

    liberals always ruin everything. theyre ruining america, they ruined resident evil 5, now theyre trying to ruin fat princess. when will it end? give them more, and they will try to take more.

    sorry bitch, sony doesnt play that game. take your cry baby bullshit over to sweden where youre free even to fuck animals. and let me tell you a little something about your lesbianism: you just have a mental disorder. you were depressed, anxious, and confused. you had weird thoughts, and you ran with them thinking thats who you are. being a lesbian is the way you cope, its your crutch, because in your mind you are the helpless victim, which is much easier than being proactive.

    stop trying to ruin everyone elses lives just because you hate yours. P.S. its obvious you just want tons of traffic for your blog by trying to copy the other losers example

  184. Bill says:

    I am a fat person. I used to be a lot fatter, but I lost the weight by using the age old method of diet and exercise.

    I was pushed to do this by my desire to not have chest pains when climbing up stairs, and because the insult that were flung at me made me look at myself, and it made me realize I was a lazy asshole.

    I will continue to diet and exercise until I become thin, and at that point I will remain on a moderate weight-maintaining plan.

    Fat people are not some sort of group that needs to be protected from prejudice. Fat people need to have prejudice forced upon them to the point where they finally get off their asses.

  185. Haruhara says:

    Wow, I like how you go off and bitch about the game being so awful towards overweight people, and in your first two paragraphs you slander the so-called “average online gamer” with worse prejudice than the people you allegedly speak for allegedly receive.

    tl;dr: fuck you.

  186. paracelsus says:

    I agree that the “fat” mechanic was not necessary, and that the game could have been done in a different way. But is it really dangerous and anti-fat/female propaganda as some bloggers seem to think? I’m obese, and i don’t particularly feel offended about it. I just see it as a low-class joke that I’m not going to let get in the way of having a good time.

    I mean, it’s my choice to get offended by this. “If they make this game that makes fun of fat people, fine, I won’t let it affect me.” If the entire world said this, than there would be no problem, would there? It seems to me the real issue is low self esteem, and it’s easier to get angry at the game than to address one’s own personal issues. As soon as I stop getting angry at the idiot calling me fat, I realize that the aggressor’s words are ultimately futile, then the antagonist loses all power. Why try to change your opponent when it’s much easier to change yourself? Because changing yourself requires one to admit to one’s self that they have a flaw, and that is something few are willing to do.

    Now don’t take this as saying that you should just ignore injustice and oppression, but there are much more pressing issues that a game about a fat princess. Just ignore the small stuff, such as this, and direct your attention to something bigger that will have a lasting positive impact on the world. Fight something that is hurting someone’s family or home or ability to live, not something that just hurts their pride.

  187. GeorgeR says:

    Just came here from Heroine Sheik, and reading through about half the comments (and by reading I mean glazing over after seeing a lot of the same stuff regurgitated with different words) I have to toss my worthless two cents in.

    The critique of the game is great, and its very easy to read it that way, because those are messages it is sending out. I love the fact that people are so up in arms over the critique being made. They seem to come at it with a fevered defense as if claims are being made against them for viciously creating such a horrible caricature of a person. Not realizing that the game is just using old stereotypes that have been around for a long long time.

    No one’s saying Fat Princess is creating the stereotype, just that its banking on the stereotype that fat = funny.

    That said, even I laughed at the game. I mean the princess is utterly adorable, and the idea of force feeding your enemy’s chosen until they balloon up is silly.

    But that’s the point, I laugh at it because it is absurd and because I can tear it apart.

    The problem though is not everyone’s capable of making proper analysis.

    Of course this doesn’t have the saving grace of making fun of the stereotype that fat people are funny. Because it is just using the stereotype rather than pointing at its flaws.

    And thankfully enough there’s academic groups like the PCA and the ACA out there letting researchers do work on these sorts of issues, so we just need more professional critique like this to occur and hopefully we can finally get the gaming industry to a more mature stage.

  188. AJR says:

    I guess I agree with PurpleChair at the start of these comments, as I had no idea this game would actually generate any controversy. Reading through a few of the feminist blogs (at least, outside of Shakesville, which is dreadful) I can sort of see where a few people are coming from, but it’s hard to see it as anything more than a fun little videogame with some interesting gameplay mechanics. It looks so lighthearted and silly that I can’t really fathom why people would get upset by it.

  189. nana says:

    in fact, shrek 2 has fiona as a playable character.. I still think every argument going on about this game is overinflated.. when I first saw it I just went “meh..” to it.. I’d give the creators the benefit of the doubt and assume that they only used a fat chick instead of katamari style or gold is because it was the easiest idea and everyone would see it. I don’t see why they had to make it in lieu of being offensive..

    it’s just a game.. stealing the opponent’s gold still means someone has to carry it. Why wouldn’t they drop it, then? If we’re going to argue in those terms, then I feel offended that someone has to carry the gold and it’d be a guy, wouldn’t it? Why do guys have to be portrayed as always being strong enough to carry so much weight that their speed is reduced so greatly? Also, using katamari ideas means they could just rip off the items from themselves.. what else did you want them to protect? it’s too much to get mad over something this stupid.

    Why would we make any form of entertainment? If you’re going to go for universal acceptance, you’ll fail miserably. We have freedom to publish or say whatever we want.. if anyone is corrupted by it that’s because of their little minds. Heck, i’m offended by the fact that girls are supposed to wear dresses and guys aren’t. so? not everyone is. deal with it. accept it.

    Every game, movie, song, or form of media or art demeans somebody. EVERY one… In some way, someone feels offended. It’s just another one. I don’t even think the stupid game’s gonna get big, and you’re just giving it more propaganda.

  190. jay says:

    OK – let me get this straight, we cant portray woman as sexy hotties, because then we’re being pigs, we can’t portray them as fat heffers, then we’re being mean. How bout these feminists just get lives and get over them selves. If your fat, stop eating, if your skinny, start eating, if your un satisfied with your life, step out into traffic for gods sake. IT’S A VIDEO GAME! 20-30 years ago, this would have never been an issue, there are wars, famine, and disease going on all over the place and you chicks are worried about a game called fat princess? this is why you will NEVER be president, too cranky!

  191. Carlos says:

    I’ve been looking into this “feminists against fat princess” conflict for a while now. I first heard about it from screwattack.com. Honestly I was one of those gamers that dismissed it as “geez why don’t these feminists just learn to accept this brilliant and funny game, whats the big deal?”, at the time I thought the concept of a an army having to save a fat princess was hilarious, and to be honest I still do. As time went by though, I saw more and more info on this, and it all intrigued me. I started reading the articles with the feminist POV, I have to say I am convinced. I can totally see how this game can be, no, IS offensive to women. But… now I have mixed feelings.

    Please don’t get me wrong I admit that I am new to feminist philosophy, and so I might say something that might be found offensive to feminists (not that I’m trying to use this as an excuse), however I do feel that most of the feminists articles that are against fat princess sound so angry, so much so to a point that isn’t necessary in my opinion. one of the things that I find that all the articles have in common (including yours) is that they say that the “fat princess” mechanic isn’t needed, that it is just something that was added by the developers to supposedly make the game more quirky and appealing, and that it could easily be replaced by something else (like the “treasure chest” idea proposed in Mighty ponytail’s article, for example). I completely agree with all this and I would love to argue that the developers didn’t mean to be sexist. However, someone could easily argue that just because someone doesn’t mean to be evil doesn’t mean that what they did wasn’t; in other words “the road to hell is paved with good intentions.” And rightfully so.

    Realistically I think that the both you and I know that the developers are going to go through with their game idea anyway, despite for the complaints, and its something both parties (feminists and developers) are going to have to deal with; feminists with the fact that the game exists and developers with the fact that feminists have an endless list of complaints that are for the most part accurate.

    What’s my point? Well, to put it simply I believe that if people really do feel this strongly about the game being offensive, they should come up with a way to get the developers to make a realistic compromise. My idea, for example, is to have a the soldiers that are saving the princess, be both men and women (I don’t know if its like that already, as far as I know all the soldiers are guys) and also make the game with a “fat prince” mode where the game would be played exactly the same but you have to save a guy from your enemies, before they get to fatten him up. I think that seems like a logical idea. I know people will say, “but that still leaves the fact that they are enforcing the fat stereotype, in this giant fat joke of a game.” This is true, but consider this: the game is called fat princess for a reason, because the company has already made up their mind about the “fat princess” mechanic and they have advertised it plenty. there is no way they can take back the idea without losing money, setting back the games development by a lot and/or looking like huge asses. I feel that if the idea of a unisex army and a “fat prince” mode were added to the game, that could be considered a victory. A small victory, yes, but a victory nevertheless.

    Btw I have to say your article is very well-written.

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