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Moral Combat

Moral Combat - Why do liberals play computer games like conservatives?

Just a quote:
I blame some of my right-of-center leanings on the structures of the games themselves. Having children has the added bonus of extending game time in The Sims, because I get to continue to play the same family as the generations roll by. Maternity leave is mandatory for pregnant Sim women because of a long-standing technical issue within the game, but that replicates a long--standing real-world assumption about which partner should care for newborn children. The result is that my Sim women often leave work permanently because they've taken more time off than their Sim husbands, which actually mirrors the results of gender discrimination in the real world. If the game were set up in a less traditional way, I would likely play it in a less traditional way.

You can read the whole thing at the link above. What do y'all think? I hadn't thought about how the Sims does mirror real-world gender discrimination until just now.

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( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
mayara13
Feb. 19th, 2011 11:10 pm (UTC)
"My wives always take their husbands' last names. They don't just have children; they bear lots of them. And they leave their careers to take on the lion's share of care-giving duties."

My women often propose to the men, and the men take their wives' last names. I often have stay-at-home dads taking care of stuff at the house, and the kids, once mom is able to go back to work b/c the kid's been born. I have same-sex couples, and groups of adults not in sexual/romantic relationships living with each other to share the costs who take turns having "guests" over.

Not that the Sims is perfect, but some of the real-world gender discrimination is a matter of how you play the game. If you play it with the same sort of assumptions that led to some of the real world's gender roles, you'll get similar outcomes.

"But if anyone who wanted to promote "traditional family values" actually played a game like The Sims, they would love it."

Not if they played it the way I do, they wouldn't. And why is it that I've heard complaints about the Sims from the "traditional family values" crowd then? (Over things like pre-marital sex, and same-sex romantic relationships...)

"In another computer game, Civilization, players start with a prehistoric nomad and re-create the cultural and societal evolution of humankind by harvesting natural resources, growing crops, and studying science. There are many ways to out-compete other civilizations and win the game, but the surest is to become a war hawk: I devote all of my resources, early on, to building a massive army--of warriors, then knights, then musketeers, then tanks, and then guided missiles--and destroy weaker cities, one by one, until they all belong to me. Building a society on diplomacy and technological development sounds great in theory but takes thousands of years before I can reap rewards. Again and again, I choose war."

And I rarely do. The only reason I even go the war route in the DS version of Civilization is because it keeps track of which kinds of wins I had, and I have a bit of a "collect them all" reaction. But on my PC? I'm only as military minded as I need to be to defend myself; it may take ages to win through better science, but I take the time because that's important to me (even though it is "just a game"). It's more rewarding to me.

"I can opt to commit my resources to building trade alliances and public libraries, but I don't have a choice about building an army to defend my cities against barbarian attacks. Once I have an army, I might as well use it to destroy my competitors."

See, that's part of the difference. For me, a military is for defense. That's its purpose. So I build one, and once the barbarian attacks start, I send that military out to eliminate the threat, but I don't then turn my attention toward allies and neutral parties who have not done anything to me. And my cities go back to advancing their science and tech.

Then again, I also can't get past the problems with 24 to watch it. The snippets I've seen don't seem interesting nor exciting to me -- just frustrating and cranky-making. I can't get past my anti-torture viewpoint to "enjoy" a show like that.

And it's not that I have an aversion to all forms/instances of pretend, virtual violence. I play games like Diablo II and Guild Wars with my husband, and suggest playing them by asking him if he wants to "go kill things"; my tabletop RPG character I've had going for years defaults to "torch 'n' trample" (set things/people on fire or make them explode with magic, and then stampede through on her warhorse). When I do use my military in Civilization, I go for overpowering and trouncing any who dare to attack me, if I can, until they are gone or beg for mercy.

And there are some rather conservative-leaning games out there. I tend not to play many of those.

But the more sandbox-y games? It kind of depends on how you play. I try to see what I can get away with by bending or breaking the rules. If you try to get your Sims to the top of their careers and fall prey to the same sort of assumptions that led to our real-world gender roles, your game will have some of the same sort of outcomes. But that doesn't mean the game always does for everyone.
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