Why I don’t have these kinds of conversations anymore
A reflection on negative people
When people took issue with our characters clothing... It wasn’t about people looking to have characters they wanted in a game, or making sure they had a more inclusive array of characters and felt represented, it was actually the exact opposite. People wanted to make sure that a woman couldn’t show her body, without receiving a massive amount of scorn and outrage. It was about being mad at something, and not caring if their anger was justified, or well placed. It was about their imagined ideas from seeing a single picture. They wanted to stop other people from being represented and keep game designers from telling the story they were inspired to create.. In a game they knew nothing about.
In the years we spent in development, in a game with over a hundred images, it’s no coincidence that the first time people start “hating” all the artwork is after they see one image that makes them mad: then this great well of drama springs forth. After spending many days and countless hours talking to people, I realized that they were mostly just angry and looking to lash out at something or someone, and then feel justified about it. A really bad start for any conversation.
People would start light, making lots of assumptions, and looking for a way to rile themselves up. Usually it’d be some sort of baited question that assumes wrong doing. “Why do you treat women this way, but not men” the implied subtext here being with some sort of sexism, disregard, or disrespect.. which just isn't the case.
As it so happens, this image was done as an art project between my wife and her best friend. So they were actually done in a set.
But it’s really hard to correct someone who’s already secretly upset and primarily looking for justification and an outlet for their negative emotions. They're just looking for something "wrong" and no one likes to find out it's them, so they seek to re-frame the discussion or just ignore the information and focus on something else.
This hunky piece of man meat.. btw is not a simple sex object or a thin ploy to counterbalance a woman who couldn’t otherwise stand on her own. No one seemed to care about him, though... any time that we posted this image.
Ivor is a Nordic barbarian, who like his counterpoint Inara, has a rich history steeped in classical mythology dating back thousands of years, that was the driving force behind his character design. A nod to "classic gaming barbarians" from days of yore, Ivor's backstory runs deep.. and he doesn’t just have his shirt off to pick up chicks.
His tattoos are based off of ancient nordic runes, the one on his arm being used to banish evil spirits (seemingly useful in a game about demons and evil spirits). The one on his chest is a rune of protection, otherwise known as the “Greater Shield of Terror”, a magical sigil used to make your enemies hallucinate a horde of innumerable black dragons (and tied to his character ability “dragon madness”). He’s part of an elite force of warriors raised by the monastery of the second sun, bred from birth to fight evil. This monastery is later destroyed by Malagar, the main antagonist from our co-op expansion, leaving Ivor the half giant with a score to settle, as part of our “pets and heroes expansion”.
But every time I would answer a question, it just lead to more aggressive responses and comments. Seeing the picture of the barbarian.. people would follow up with more assumptions and loaded questions that were way off base. I think the next one I got while defending my artist and their choices was “what kind of weird sexist, game are you making” and “it looks like barbarian porn”. I honestly got a good laugh at the barbarian porn joke, and a few others about Inara's initial plant outfit, but as I persisted in the denial of sexist motivations people just started to get nastier, and the aggressive questions continued. “...and no,” I replied. “Out of the hundred or so images for this game, it’s just these two that are like this, and they were done for a lot of very specific reasons that are completely unrelated to pushing some sexist agenda or objectifying women”.
At the end of the day, I believe in creating what your inspired to create and just having fun with it. I honestly do care, but I can only do so much. After many days of trying to get through to certain types of people, I found, significantly more often than not, it was just a complete waste of time. No one was listening to me, and they were just looking for something to be upset about.
What I didn’t get was what I’d consider to be a single “useful or helpful” discussion with anyone who started in with an accusation, a loaded question, or some sort of misconstrued sexist remark about sexism.
With the internet the way it is these days, I decided to stay away from the underside of bridges.. all you find are tolls.