This is my #YesAllWomen story.
I am so sick of male entitlement in nerd and geek culture. Can you guys, just for one moment, realize that it’s not all about you, that there is a whole other gender out there, who loves the same things that you love, is just as passionate them, whose participation can improve and grow your hobby, but that you are pushing away? No?
Am I just noticing this because it’s my subculture? Maybe, but as Arthur Chu of the Daily Beast points out, Nerd culture champions the idea that women are prizes, a reward for your hard work.
Fuck that noise.
I have been playing the Shadowfist collectible card game since the year 2000, after it was re-released by Z-Man games. I’ve followed the games through its highs and lows. In 2007 I was the Shadowfist World Champion. I have one card with my likeness on it to commemorate that event and another when I backed Inner Kingdom Games’ 2012 Kickstarter. I think it’s fair to say, that when it comes to Shadowfist, I’m kind of a big deal.
Inner Kingdom Games put out another Kickstarter this year, for a new set of expansions, which I was eager to purchase. I had only one compunction: this is the picture Inner Kingdom Games chose to promote their product.
Does the CCG world need another boobs and butt pose? Do we need to see the lovingly detailed line of her buttcheeks in such loving detail?
Is this representative of the “Equal Opportunity Card Game,” as Shadowfist bills itself, a cardgame with buttkicking men and women?
Yup, that’s a woman kicking ass.
I wrote a message to the Shadowfist CCG group entitled “Equal Opportunity Buttkicking Fail”:
The mechanics on the new cards look great- especially interested in playing Edie Tso and Crisis characters.
I have a concern about the art that’s being used to promote the game on the splash page for the kickstarter video for the mermaid looking woman. It has a very stereotypical “boobs and butt” pose that seems like a cheap shot for sex appeal. I would feel embarrassed playing this card in my decks (much like the alternate art Scrounging).
I don’t know why Edie Tso couldn’t have been the face of the project- there’s a lady I’m going to be proud to pack in my decks.
To see what I’m talking about Scrounging, here’s the original, extremely unsexy version.
This is as close to Beekcake as you’re going to get, ladies.
And here’s the new and “improved” alternate art version.
Why yes, I always stop at the junkyard on my way home from the club.
Daniel Greigo, owner of Inner Kindom Games and all around cool dude, did change the cover picture to Edie Tso, a badass looking lady.
I picked Daughter of Nu Gua as the cover art for two primary reasons: it’s a beautiful piece and because it fits the horizontal alignment necessary for Kickstarter’s banner. This secondary requirement ultimately proved more limiting than anything else in selecting an appropriate piece.
That said, I’m not insensitive to the perceptions of our Secret Warriors and I certainly want the best face of Shadowfist up front for new players to see. It’s definitely a well-done piece, albeit contorted slightly so as to be in a somewhat revealing pose.
So I’ve updated the cover photo with Edie’s image, saving the daughter for players who are looking to have her in their decks when the time comes.
Inner Kingdom Games
Edie Tso: Now that’s a woman!
I got some replies of consensus and support.
It’s true, although to be fair, it’s a very well painted boobs and butt piece
(enough that I really wish she weren’t contorted to show off her butt; it’s
entirely unnecessary). It’s almost certainly the best done female piece in the
set, which I’m guessing is why it headlined, but yeah.
Yeah agreed. I think the logic was nice art, rather than nice arse, but the piece is definitely less than equal opportunity. Its something we are aware of (I hate playing with cards with embarrassing art), so for this, and other reasons hopefully there will be less NEOBK art going forward.
I actually quite like the impressionistic style of Edie (reminds me of Pump Action Shotgun), but Lorraine Schleter is also pretty awesome.
I got other replies that were much less supportive.
If people are worried about a shapely ass for one sex then why would they not care at all that the other sex is frequently portrayed as overtly muscular or masculine ? What a silly thing to spend time worrying about. Humans are works of art in and of themselves. Appreciating curvature or musculature is natural and is naturally recreated in art the world over. Personally I enjoy having hotties in my ranks. A pretty face ( or nice ass ) that can hand down a beating is an awesome thing. Art is art, it imitates life and life imitates it. There are trillions of things in this world that are more offensive and embarrassing than having a booty turned toward your line of sight on a playing card. The most interesting part of this though is the one sided ness… No one wants to see a weakened or less muscular Big Bruiser.. He doesnt even have a shirt.. How embarrassing… See how silly this argument sounds when applied to the male sex ? It sounds just as silly when applied to female characters to me… Sex appeal will always exist, especiallyin art.
To which Joshua quite elegantly responds:
Please, don’t. If you want to get educated on representation, we can do it
Here’s the card he’s talking about, Big Bruiser:
Big Bruiser version 2:
Sorry anonymous troll, neither of those are beefcake. Until he strips out of that undershirt, removes those sunglasses so I can see his soulfull eyes, and poses like he’s in an underwear commercial, I won’t be able to properly appreciate that bod.
Shadowfist has always been a CINEMATIC card game. So we need to make sure the art portrays that… so all the female characters should be unattractive like Michelle Yeoh (beauty queen), Maggie Q (model), Angelina Jolie (model), and Scarlet Johansson. That list of unattractive women excluded the female actors in genre films that were there more for looks than their martial prowess like Amy Yip.
I won’t link any pictures from their movies or movie posters so as not to offend… but let me assure you they are not beating ass while wearing burqas.
Maybe that’s because the only way to get involved in movies is to be attractive? The only female action star I’m aware of who is known more for her physical prowess than her looks is Zoe Bell, who is hardly a big name.
Here’s what I had to say about all of this:
You are missing the point, which is that it is possible to portray a character in a way that is attractive, without being exploitative or cheesecake. The mermaid peice is well-done from a technical standpoint, but is in a pose that is anatomically unlikely, solely for the exciement of the (presumed) male viewer. If Shadowfist wants to attract a larger audience (and it does, and the audience is out there), alienating half of all potential buyers because a product is marketed with yet-another-cheesecake piece of art that focuses on women as objects. The Mermaid is not kicking ass; she is standing there looking sexy.
The Big Bruiser is depicted as ready to kick some ass. He is not depicted as ready to take it up the ass. This is the difference between the depiction of men and women in gaming.
There are female card players, we do have a problem with this thing, and if a game is marketed as Equal Opportunity, we are going to call you on it.
Anonymous troll tries to accuse me of having an echo chamber and tries the old free speech gambit:
Just pointing out the one sided aspects of the arguments being made here by other posters. This is a forum for discussion of beliefs and opinions is it not ?
To which Joshua once again brilliantly responds.
Nope. You must be thinking of a different forum. This forum is about Shadowfist.
Anonymous troll gets my name wrong and calls me a whiner. Nice.
I can agree and disagree with all of the points willy makes. Bottom line is this is for money… So reality and equality wont come into play. The chance of offending someone trumps artistic freedom and expression. Therefore offending less people is what is catered to. The whiny wheel gets the grease. Making every opinion about what is acceptable in art and society and card games moot. Perhaps A focus group should have been held for the artwork to see which people react best and worst to each piece of art? I honestly find very little offensive in our world save for crimes against children, censorship and double standards. If her butt is offensive so is the big bruisers macho pose. I am not that buff… Most men are not that buff.. why is he being portrayed that way, he is the barbie doll of lcg’s for sure.. By the way.. PLEASE NOTE: I am typing and thinking all of this with a smile on my face.. I take it all as very tongue in cheek. Just very amused that such little things can be so offensive to some :D My life would make some of you physically sick if a little cheek offends you :D
“You’re a whiner, but I’m not serious, just playing devil’s advocate, LOL.”
Another voice of reason appears:
That mermaid? was atrocious and embarrassing, and I’m glad that it’s gone from the Kickstarter page (which I have been checking daily to see how it’s funding). I really hope the art is cut from the set as well. Not only was it an overtly sterotypical t&a pose that could only be comfortable in an animated environment, but her hands and “feet” just look ridiculous. I hadn’t said anything, because I assumed that we were a minority and I’d rather see the Kickstarter succeed than not.
Thanks, Willow, for making the post, and thanks, Daniel, for making the change. Once our daughter is old enough (also a Willow!) we plan to teach her Shadowfist, and a card like that is inappropriate for the under 21 crowd. If Shadowfist has moved away from the topless art so as to be more family friendly, it’s also time to move away from t&a poses as well.
The MRA squad arrives to pick apart Paul’s parenting skills, seeing as how Shadowfist involves violence. Because if you can’t win the argument, change the argument!
So a mermaid showing her ass is inappropriate for the under 21 crowd, but a man eating other’s brains or shooting a machine-gun is perfectly appropriate…
I’m glad to live in Europe, where we usually don’t have this odd morality.
And the mermaid art is awesome and would make a better front page in the kickstarter project.
In the dark ages in England families mostly lived in one room huts where children would see their parents butcher animals, procreate their siblings and kill enemies or die by the hands of rivals. Violent pretend play is often considered ok and always has been. However saying that an image of a curvy butt is going to corrupt a child ( or someone of 18 19 20 21 etc years) MORE or LESS than images of violence is a very silly thing and really does appear to be a standard that other countries have less of. It is not ok for us to grow up with a perverse attraction to the opposite sex but an intricate knowledge of what spraying someones brains onto a wall looks like is ingrained into us early. Honestly sex and violence are natural parts of human existence and both are OK. We should not glorify these things to children ( or ppl up to 21 !!! what a fun number ) but also should not hide them and candy coat their use and prevalence on this planet. The artsy side of sex and violence, especially in a comic style is a nice escape from seeing it on the news and everywhere else. Media hard wires DISNEY role models and other such role models into a child and young adult well before they will ever see their first TCG LCG or CCG.. I dont think I would ever worry about a shadowfist character being a role model of any kind until you have a hit kids show, dolls and an amusement park :D In short dont worry. Most minds are corrupt before reaching you.
Meanwhile, Bruce Neiger chimes in with some sense.
Controversial topics. Oooh fun.
So, Big Bruiser is a helluva lot more masculine than I or 99.9999% of the human population. Yep. But it doesn’t upset me.
Why not? Should I be? I dunno.
Perhaps it is because I am not part of a super large group who have been told in countless ways by multiple aspects of society (although lead perhaps by Madison Ave at the larger scale and insensitive oafs at the smaller one) that YOUR looks count disproportionately to other aspects of you. Who have in large part been given unreasonable amounts of stress about appearance. Who have to put up with grossly disproportionate levels of objectification.
– What we (and Madison Ave) do to young girls’ self image is fairly revolting.
– This, and multiple other factors to extensive to list create a heightened sensitivity to certain images(…and words. Can we all agree that words can hurt? None of us would toss out racial epithets, even in the name of art, would we?), resulting in feelings that range from frustration to hurt.
– Would those feelings be as legitimate if these conditions didn;t exist? Yeah, but those conditions are a large force behind the feelings. That’s how it is.
– It is incumbent upon designers and developers of a gaming product that wishes to be equal- opportunity to be listening to (our) customers’ opinions and feelings of what can be hurtful or offensive, and being sensitive to that. Is that restrictive? Yes. But I hear restrictions breed creativity, anyway.
– Do we have to like it? It is better if we do. But if you are the one plopping down a pornographic playmat or a wearing a T-shirt with inappropriate slogans on it at a gaming store that permits under 16’s and actively recruits female gamers of any age, well… maybe those restrictions aren;t such a bad thing, eh?
– Gamers, in particular, shouldn;t have to feel unwelcome for being who they are.
Thanks, Bruce. Well said.
Anonymous Troll begins posting as Patrick Roach, and begins trolling some more:
Big Bruiser reference was purely for comparison.. That opinion could exist, although it is not my true feelings on the subject. :D
“Just playing Devil’s Advocate, LOL!”
Topless sting was bad ass ! It was a brazen and ballsy move that has created a card that is very well appreciated in my play group. We dont use it.. But we do look at it from time to time. I actually remember thinking ” Damn, they printed this, they are bad asses.” AH Nostalgia…
He’s talking about this card: Sting of the Scorpion
Yeah, you got some decent wank fodder right there.
And the topless Sting of the Scorpion promo (NSFW)
Funny story, after Z-Man games put out their first couple of topless promos, Robin Laws, creator of Feng Shui and Shadowfist and also all-around cool guy, heard about it, and told them not to print any more if they wanted to keep their license.
I try to redirect people back to the point:
This is getting way off course.
I don’t care about this because of the children, or morality. I care because for me, because of what I have to look at when I’m playing the game, and the Mermaid art is another stupid, lazy grab for cheap sex appeal.
It’s very simple. You can decide you’re going to market your game just towards men, and use sex as your signifier… as many, many games have done before. Personally, I think this cheapens the integrity of your product and is insulting towards your target audience, but several men on this list have gone on record as willing to be pandered to.
Or you can try to market your game to a growing audience. Did you know that thanks to the rise of facebook and mobile games, there are now more female gamers than male gamers? Gencon’s advertiser information lists Women ages 20+ as its fastest growing demographic.
IKG seems to be positioning itself in this direction, and I applaud them for it- their stance on “Equal Opportunity Buttkicking,” (which if you don’t know, is a reference to badass men AND women).
When I was at Gencon last year, I played many different games- Shadowfist, Magic Drafts, Ascension, Netrunner, and roleplaying games. I saw very few female players in the CCG tourneys I played in. However when I played a few games of King of Tokyo at the Iello tables, only a few tables away from the Shadowfist area, about half the players were female.
If that’s the approach IKG wants to take, then they have to walk the walk, and so far they have, but they’ve still got room for improvement.
Well, I was going to stay out of this, but since pat called me out, I will toss in my two cents.
Seems to me that taking offense at the sexiness of the mermaid is to give way too much weight to it, and ignore everything else that she is, or could be Isn’t it sexist to see her only for her body?
She is the “Daughter of Nu Gua”, after all, who is no less than a Goddess of Creation! Nu Gua, according to legend, actually repaired the pillars of Heaven, in addition to creating may species of creatures to roam the Earth. Seems like her daughter should be respected for her goddess blood at least. Plus what about that huge sword she carries. Looks to me like she would be a formidable enemy (hmmm 3 for 4 and cannot be intercepted by magic or tech characters. Her flavor text should be “Bring it!”). Shouldn’t you take this into account?
Mankind has been showcasing the beauty of the female form since we learned how to paint and sculpt. The Goddess Athena, for example, was often portrayed in clinging robes, and sometimes even with a breast exposed, Gasp! None more formidable in battle than Athena, nor in many other things such as weaving, and she was quite vain about her own beauty as well. Who would dare to call Athena sexist, or say that she “demeans” females by being sexy and also bad-ass?
Don’t feel offended. Feel empowered! Feel proud to be of the same gender as figures of such legacy and power. Don’t see them only for how they look.
Oh, I get it now! Perceiving sexism is the real sexism! (Eyeroll.) And I should be honored that there’s sexy art. Thanks for mansplaining. It all makes so much sense now.
I got a number of private emails from people thanking me for bringing this up. But I have to tell you people, that support kept me going at the time, but the best thing you can do is speak up against misogyny when you see it.
Should it be controversial for me to want to see artwork in a game I play that does not reduce women to sexual anatomy?
Should it be controversial for me point out to a game company that using said art is counter to their stated goals for the game?
Should it be acceptable for people to tell me I need to just live with it?
Should it be acceptable for our industry to think of women as a commodity, and not as people?