Academics Want More Social Justice Issues In AAA VR Games
Horizon: Zero Dawn
(Last Updated On: June 22, 2016)

The BBC recently ran a piece about the gaming industry and VR tech during a report on this year’s E3. They felt as if video games need to teach people more about social justice issues and that female protagonists in games need to be de-sexualized even more than what they are.

Twitter user atak_jak directed us toward the BBC piece, which is only available for viewing by residents of the U.K. However, some of the relevant quotes were transcribed from the piece that gives gamers an idea of what it was talking about.

In the short report covering E3, VR and video games being used as educational tools, Jeremy Bailenson from the Virtual Human Interaction Lab at Stanford University explained…

“What if every thirty minutes of playing, you had to do a thirty minute public service announcement advertisement where you become a woman and you have to experience sexual harassment as a woman. Or you become a minority and you experience some violence that is epitomized by some of the things we’re seeing today.

 

“In other words, let’s let the games be the games but — the game makers who have such power, because this medium is so persuasive, it’s one of the most persuasive medium among our youth — can we also put in some pro-social messages as they’re spending all this time playing these games?”

Bailenson isn’t alone in the use of games as a means of indoctrinating gamers with empathy. There’s a slide that’s been floating around about a “Huge Potential for Empathy”.

According to those like Bailenson, he mentions that women are forced to play hypersexualized characters, stating…

“What we have done in this lab is run a series of experiments that studies what happens to women’s view of gender when they are in this hypersexualised body that affects how they see themselves later on.

 

“One of the goals of the team is to persuade big publishers to include empathy and diversity training experiences”

Academics want to pursue what the slide above is mentioning, in terms of “unconscious bias training” by inculcating gamers with specific social messages encoded into the game. The idea is to start to change the way gamers are ingrained with information to perceive certain aspects of society. They hope to achieve their goals through conditional, repetitious messages displayed at half-hour intervals, all designed for teaching empathy.

Bailenson goes on to say…

“VR experiences like this could start to change the way gamers think. Chipping away at the ingrained biases and toxic attitudes that have driven so many people away from gaming communities in the past.”

According to the director of the VR research labs at Standford University, forcing people to have to experience these social injustices periodically throughout the game would make them less inclined to committing acts of sexual harassment or carrying out violence.

The idea would be to indoctrinate gamers through games.

According to the BBC, the research that Bailenson and others at Stanford are doing is essential because the gaming industry treats women unfairly, and the major AAA titles hyper-sexualizes women far too much. The BBC states…

“With diversity a hot topic across the tech sector, gaming conventions like this have done a lot to clean up their act, binding the booth babes and generally creating a better atmosphere. Having said that, too many games on display here still have a long way to go when it comes to treating female characters with respect.

 

“Impossible anatomies, ridiculously oversexualised clothing, and not enough strong female protagonists are still things we still see far too much in the big budget titles.”

I’m curious exactly which big budget titles they’re referencing? Most female leads in recent AAA games have been made to be sexually and physically unappealing. Characters like Aloy from Horizon, Faith from Mirror’s Edge, Kait from Gears of War 4, the female supporting characters in Call of Duty, and the female protagonist from ReCore all have sexually unattractive designs, and were made to be liked only for their personalities and actions.

Then again, maybe being attractive for their personalities is too sexist for today’s gaming industry.


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About

Billy has been rustling Jimmies for years covering video games, technology and digital trends within the electronics entertainment space. The GJP cried and their tears became his milkshake. Need to get in touch? Try the Contact Page.

  • CRES

    “What if every thirty minutes of playing, you had to do a thirty minute
    public service announcement advertisement where you become a woman and
    you have to experience sexual harassment as a woman.”

    So, you are literally asking gamers to spend HALF OF THEIR PLAY TIME being lectured to. Do you seriously think gamers, not journalists, GAMERS, will actually LIKE that!?

  • Killinger

    “academics”

  • Connor Hotzwik

    Don’t we need AAA VR games before we start worrying about whether there’s too much or too little of something?

  • Olivia

    This is something I noticed,and it confuses me. Feminist get mad when you slut shame a women and its bad, but when a video game character wears something sexy but is strong and confident. The feminist start to slut shame the female character. Sorry if I ramble but it’s something I notice and I was wondering if anybody notices it to.

  • Alistair

    The day they force me to play they shitty corrected games is the day I quit gaming.

    But the funny part is that photo not many people had show up listen to a white knight piss-dude.

  • Am I the only one who got quite pissed at the ban of Booth Babes? I mean:

    1) Banning something a lot of people interacted with, experienced with, and enjoyed.

    2) Denying these women models work opportunities for their services. It’s their job, their living, and they would’ve got paid for it.

    Real fucking progressive. Remind me who are the misogynists again?

    “Generally creating a better atmosphere”

    Yeah, making it better for overly-sensitive little SJW feminist whining crybabies more like.

    I’m getting so tired of this. SJWs and feminists need to mocked again and again until they’re completely out of existence.

    • I never paid any attention to booth babes, but gaming outlets whined about them incessantly. It wasn’t until recently when some people online started talking about losing out on work opportunities did it finally hit home that the whole SJW thing really is regressive.

      At the end of the day, people are choosing to be offended because a woman chose to be paid to dress sexily and help sell a product.

      • Another thing is that once [insert sexy female modelling job]’s have been banned by SJWs/feminists, we never seem to hear from these women models (or at least I don’t)… like there’s never any public comments from them, statements of their disapproval, or even activism/campaigns standing up for them?

        Booth Babes, Page 3, Grid Girls, Protein World, that guitar magazine (forgot name of it), the London Tube advertisment situation, the Go-Go dancers, etc… it’s all a direct attack on attractive women and material men enjoy.

        The women models really should unite together (from all sectors) and go against this SJW-feminist rubbish, because I do believe that they have a genuine case of discrimination resulting in unfairness and suffering from making a living (if that’s what it’s called).

        If they could get someone extremely wealthy to support them I would love it if they took legal action and sued the life out of the likes of Eurogamer, E3, etc. and the cowards within who decided to ban them.

    • Olivia

      Really,I didn’t know they banned them until now. Wow is the ban only in America , europe.

  • reaVer

    Academics can go fuck themselves.

  • MusouTensei

    They want to destroy gaming.

  • Mr.Towel

    Because shoehorning social justice is going so well in other media, huh?

  • Robot Panda

    If cancer could kill itself, as these people should, we would all be happy. They are demanding people who required 30 years to craft their own success, people with creativity, ideas, and vision, surrender their minds to this agenda. They don’t want to start where everyone starts – making indie side-scrollers, crafting your success over time, reaching for the top. Your first games not seen by anyone, left gathering dust in your memories alone. To an SJW the idea of starting from scratch is alien. They have to start with millions in budget. Blizzard made a Superman game when they were nobodies. Weren’t it for JonTron, I bet people wouldn’t know that Bethesda used to make Home Alone games.

    SJWs can fuck themselves and any developer who surrenders to them should be thoroughly ridiculed and shamed.

    • “If cancer could kill itself, as these people should, we would all be happy. They are demanding people who required 30 years to craft their own success, people with creativity, ideas, and vision, surrender their minds to this agenda.”

      What’s astonishing is that these assholes are trying to claim that it’s this “toxic masculinity” and “sexualization of women” that’s been driving women away from video games in the past. It is completely false, and quite frankly a load of utter horse tripe.

      The fact is that back then before video games became mainstream and popular, girls and young women were just not into it. They weren’t “driven away” from video games at all, they were just not interested.

      “SJWs can fuck themselves and any developer who surrenders to them should be thoroughly ridiculed and shamed.”

      Unfortunately they are already having an effect on Western developers. Even Japanese developers too now.

      When I look up video games news (at the genuinely good and unbiased ones like OAG) and see any news about the video game culture war (i.e. SJWs vs GamerGate, I rarely see GG winning.

      It always seems that the SJWs win by getting things censored time and time again.

      • LurkerJK

        They might have some “wins” but they are all Pyrrhic victories, they are not getting any friends, things they get the mitts onto fail and collapse, any more successes like that and well need a new planet

  • MONAD

    I think we’re slowly starting to see the beginnings of a new vidya crash like what happened in the 80s. An over saturated market as it is right now combined with Social Justice getting its grubby little mitts into everything is slowly starting to push people away from it. We’ll experience another crash. I’m counting on it.

    • LurkerJK

      Funny, i thought it would happen because they pushed developing costs too high causing AAA stagnation, but here comes social justice destroying everything in its path

  • C G Saturation

    Ah yes, the BBC.. kid raping cult and propaganda station. We should totally focus on social issues in games, and not our higher ups fucking our children.

  • scemar

    translation: VR is a good propaganda and indoctrination new medium

    academics have long been taken over by SJW and as usual it began in a seemingly harmless way but grew more and more

    they can be this open and shameless about their intents because the have taken over so many parts of society they don’t have much to fear, or so they think

    little do they know the rest of the world has been silently and impotently watching

    Videogames have become the big bastion for society’s freedom, for now at least
    they can’t make fun games, and an unfun game is simply trash, they can convince people that a bad book or a bad movie is good but not with games

  • Michael P

    So openly talking about outright indoctrination like it’s a good thing, wtf is going on in their heads?

    If the actual scientific studies conducted to see if there was a correlation between vidya violence and real world violence are correct, this wouldn’t even work! We didn’t turn into mindless killing machines playing games, why would we turn into humourless SJW’s obsessed with isms ? Hell the games media have been trying that shit for a while now and it hasn’t worked.

    I’ve got no beef with somebody making games with social issues in mind but don’t demand it be forced into them all. Besides, we talk. It won’t get past us and we won’t buy the shit anyway.

    • C G Saturation

      We see the internet and entertainment media. They see indoctrination and brainwashing tools.

    • TheTundraTerror

      “wtf is going on in their heads”

      Nothing is.

  • LurkerJK

    What if every thirty minutes of playing, you had to do a thirty minute
    public service announcement advertisement where you become a woman and
    you have to experience sexual harassment as a woman. Or you become a
    minority and you experience some violence that is epitomized by some of
    the things we’re seeing today.

    I am baffled at this stupidity, with work i can barely squeeze an hour of gaming per day before i need to cook/eat/do chores or go to sleep, thats MY one hour of relax, with MY expensive hardware, playing MY expensive games, all paid with MY money and they want to STEAL half of that time to brain wash me ?

    lol, do they think i am going to pay for that? they think i am going to just keep playing thit shit without doing anything ?

    I can easily find a new hobby, i also have a very long pre-PC culture backlog i could devote my attention to, i suggest they shake off these crazies or the industry is going to burn

    • C G Saturation

      Ironically, many people in reality would probably pay big money to have the privileges of being a woman, every 30 minutes, for 30 minutes.

      • LurkerJK

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2h3yDtO5TLg

        The future of gaming and education

        • Elilla Shadowheart

          They’ll be committing sudoku, no other way to put it. People won’t buy it, and then they’ll wonder why their studios are failing.

          • LurkerJK

            You only need to look at the studio that did Baldur’s gate Siege of Dragonspear for a recent example,

    • Bitterbear

      Joke’s on you. You are going to pay for it because the British government is going to tax you for it wether you like it or not.

    • No one important

      Obviously this is an idle musing that wont ever happen. It would be too obstrusive. But they are thinking about how to reach this goal and they’ll eventually find the formula to indoctrinate you without you realizing you are being indoctrinated. It worked for movies, now they have to find the way to make it work for games as well.

      • LurkerJK

        Without me noticing ? I doubt it.

        I used to watch 20-30 movies per year, half in the cinema, now i watch 4-8 a year and never go to the cinema, i also used to watch 5-10 tv series on the day they came out, now i watch 3-4 by binging on them in one or two sessions and last year i left half unfinished because they bored me, regular TV i stopped watching completely a few years ago.

        They might be slowly, sneakily invading the media i consume, but i am also slowly leaving it and moving on to something else, most of that process has been progressing unconsciously since year 2000 long before SJWs came out of the woodwork

        • No one important

          Last time I checked, movies box office is doing as fine as usual. Even if you started to reduce consumption, most people out there is just swallowing their medicine and asking for more. They are even invading children’s media. What chance does the next generation have if they have been indoctinated since they were kids. And now videogames are in the process of following suit and reinforcing the education on the “right” values they want for society.

          • LurkerJK

            It sounds like you’ve given up, until the state robs you from the right to educate your children you can still deprogram them and teach them things yourself

            Like i said earlier, these days are the perfect moment to go back and try out all those games you missed, some have not aged well, but many have, enough to last you many many years, most 2d arcade games have aged pretty well for example

            I don’t think the “values” they push are sustainable, i can already
            see the tips of the many icebergs they are about to ram into at full
            speed.

          • No one important

            Your philosophy seems to be “This bad thing is happening, so I’ll do this to fight back and prevent it from affecting me and my family as much as I can”. Which is fine. But that should not make you lose sight of what is going on and what will probably happen in the future. You going back to old games does not change the fact that new games are going to be more and more infused with subtle and increasingly effective indoctrination.

          • It’s a hard but incorrigible truth to swallow. What would be your suggestion in fixing this very obvious cultural/societal problem?

          • No one important

            I dont think there is anything we can do to prevent all this from happening in the long run, but being aware of what is going on and what is in store for us can only be good.

          • LurkerJK

            I can’t hide the sun with my hand, i can only try to limit how much damage is being done to me and maybe chip away at things i don’t like whenever i get the chance, change someone’s mind, open someone’s perspective, help with my vote, support something that advances my views, walk away from things i dont support, etc

            There is really nothing to be won by being bitter, its funny to be writing this, i am frequently told to be less pessimistic because i make plan B C D E and F for everything in case plan A fails

  • Hawk Hopper

    I hate it when failed film directors turn video games into crappy films and I fucking despise when failed academics dream of turning video games into some sort of unisex and multicultural shiter.

    Gaming shouldn’t cater to domineering professors, politicians, academics, activists, etc. It should cater to gamers and gamers only. Leave your social justice nonsense in your own personal safe space and don’t bug anyone else with it.

    Because guess what? Tumblr is a failing business because most people aren’t that insane. Academia has failed to broaden the horizons of most students and has left them with crippling debt. Turning video games into interactive Tumblr/”inclusive” college experiences will destroy gaming.

    • Arbitrary

      VR-kits already aren’t selling as well as people hoped they would, for lack of good games. Filling the VR-stores up with Social Justice-propaganda is only going to send them further off a cliff.

      • Oh, wow. You don’t think that’s a bit of a fucking stretch, at all?

        You’re right… I meant to say “sexually unattractive.”

        • Reven

          The other problem is the high cost of the units. Even the PSVR, which is the cheapest of them, still means you’re paying the price of the console twice just for VR. It’s way too much an Enthusiasts Only club right now due to this. I’d love to get my hands on a headset and just mess around with it, but I can’t afford the 500+ dollars to JUST mess around with it.

          • Not to mention that in the case of the HTC Vive, even if you can afford to pay $800 for one you still need a 10×10 room space to use it. So there are two things working against it in that case.