Penny Arcade Comic Marginalizes Rape Survivors

You might have stumbled across at this point the mini-controversy (I cringe to even call it that, truth be told) around the Penny Arcade cartoon called The Sixth Slave, which makes reference to rape, as gamers are often wont to do, and Penny Arcade has never put forth an over abundance of effort at remaining politically correct.

The cartoon itself is basically about questing in MMOs where you are required to free a given number of things (be it people, slaves, etc), and how when you are done, there are inevitably those who are left behind that you walk away from. I’ll admit, I’ve had twinges of conscious at these moments, and have even gone above and beyond the quest requirements at times to free more of the digital have-nots, as it were.

But the rub comes with the reference to being, “raped to sleep by the dickwolves.” I’m not sure what a dickwolf is, and I’m pretty sure my life perfectly fine without that knowledge, but apparently the use of the “raped” word rubbed some people the wrong way, resulting in a brief verbal tussle. I know personally that Tycho and Gabe are not the kind of people whom I’d want to get into a verbal tussle with, but nonetheless, a few columnists did.

I won’t rehash the arguments, but suffice to say the feminist columnists railed against the use of rape in any but the most quite and almost revered terms, while PA comes back with the “Offensive jokes are funny till they offend me, then they aren’t anymore.”

This little back and forth, as minor and inconsequential as it was made me think about how I speak in gamer-talk. Even I don’t hesitate or cringe at the use of the word ‘rape’ in gamer-talk but the intent there seems to be somewhat different. If you take away the context of the game, the word takes on a much more somber feeling rather than meaning, “I got my ass-handed to me like it ain’t no thang,” as we typically use raped to mean in gamer-talk.

In the grand scheme, as something of a communications scholar, the use of the word rape doesn’t bother me in the gamer context, because of that context. However, I do occasionally run into trouble when talking about gaming to a non-gamer or being overheard when I use a term like raped and they don’t understand the cultural gamer context of the word.

Penny Arcade Strip Sticks in Craw of Rape Survivors | GamePolitics

Vaginophobia – via The Escapist

Girl with an Apple

Girl with an Apple

Over on the The Escapist, there’s an article by game journalist Michael Thomsen called “Vaginophobia,” which tackles the oft-commented portrayal of women (and more importantly femininity) in video games.  This topic lies close to my heart because I wrote an undergraduate thesis of the portrayal of women in science fiction movies from the perspective of gender.  Needless to say, I’m pretty excited to write about this. Continue reading “Vaginophobia – via The Escapist”

Sociologists and World of Warcraft

Virtual Worlds Journal Cover

Alright, so I’m a bit behind on this one – but last week Ars Technica featured entitled “Sociologists Invade World of Warcraft, see Humanity’s Future.”  The post is a bit sparse on details, but features a series of blurbs about the various academic gaming literature currently available.  I’ll be adding the books to the ‘Books’ page as I get it up and running.

Ars also gives a shout out to the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research in the article.  It’s a good source of general information, most of it around SecondLife, but there are occasionally some other tidbits of academia that expand beyond it.  It hits my gReader, so I think it’s worth a looksee.

Other than that, I’m not going to retype the article for you — click on over to Ars to check it out.

Ian Bogost’s The Picnic Spoils the Rain


Ian Bogost, author of the books Persuasive Games and Unit Operations  writes for the Persuasive Games feature on Gamasutra.  I highly recommend you check out some of his past articles if you haven’t already.  Ian Bogost is one of the leading voices in the field of game studies at the moment, and it will definitely behoove anyone who’s interested in the field to take the time to read some of his work.

His most recent article over on Gamasutra is title “The Picnic Spoils the Rain,” and is a critique of the cinematic qualities (or lack thereof) of the dramatized game,  Heavy Rain.  Bogost’s argument is that while Heavy Rain is billed as an “interactive film,” that it doesn’t really have much in common with cinema outside of a few minor similarities. Continue reading “Ian Bogost’s The Picnic Spoils the Rain”