Wednesday, November 27, 2013

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We Got Your Back: Here's How to Respond to Microsoft's Incredibly Sexist Xbox One Email

Xbox one letter
Janine "Iris Ophelia" Hawkins' ongoing review of gaming and virtual world style

Earlier today, the Xbox One marketing team pushed this little gem out into the world; a form email that you can send to your loved ones to really drive home how much you want this particular console under the Christmas tree. (Playstation 4? More like Playstation BORE, amirite? #teamxbone)

The letter is peppered with green sections that you can click to swap around with various other predefined words and phrases. You can address the letter to your "sugar daddy" and tell them how much you want to "experience the golden age of pirates" in hot release titles like "Zumba Fitness: World Party". I guess that explains why they didn't set the blank sections to randomize, but it definitely doesn't explain why they chose the default options that they did. [Update: The site has since been tweaked so that all those changeable sections are now blank by default. It's actually the second change they've made, the first being when they changed the line about knitting, visible in the header image, to one about taxes. You can find a screencap of that and the rest of the letter, unchanged, here.] Although there are plenty of more neutral choices available, perfect for a non-specific and ideally inoffensive preset, they decided to string together the most sexist, bullshit letter they could manage. Good hustle, team.

It's so dumb and so blatantly sexist that I'm not going to spend the next 700 words unpacking it piece by piece. Instead, I'm going to write the kind of reasonable response you might expect to see from someone on the receiving end of this trash. Enjoy.

Hi honey,

Did you really just ask me if I've heard of one of the only two topics that half of the internet has been talking about for months? The huge big-fucking-deal thing that came out last week? My mother knows what an Xbox One is. 

If I buy you an Xbox One at all it will be for us, not just you. That should be a given. No, I'm not very interested in watching you slay zombies. The Dead Rising series is pretty fun to play but notoriously monotonous to watch. Of course I'm not going to be interested in spending $500 just to watch you do things I would prefer to be doing myself. 

Let's get something else out of the way: I like games as much as you do. I have them on my computer, my phone, my tablet, my 3DS. I've put over 200 hours into Skyrim and you think I don't like games? No, I don't currently have a last-gen console. The performance was nothing compared to what I could get out of my PC, so it was taking up space and never getting used (just like your old Wii Fit board.)

As to your list, well...

1. I have no clue what Forza Motorsport 5 has to do with dancing, but I do like racing games, so buying that game for myself is a nice idea. 

2. Do I "love" movies? I guess I like them more than football most of the time, but I'm coming to understand that love is a really strong word. 

3. Okay, now let's pause for a minute, because point number three is a very good example of the problem we seem to be having right now. You start by talking about us, and then just talk about yourself again. Maybe you're just being diplomatic here by not telling me outright to lose weight, which would be the first smart choice you've made in this entire email, but you're not selling it either. Doesn't the Kinect track how you're performing, which parts of your body you're using, etc? That seems brilliant and incredibly useful, so why are you burying the lede?

4. Yes, I have been encouraging you to play with others, but I usually mean me. It is really great that this new console will filter out all the people telling me to go make you a sandwich, but I would also like to get some headshots in.

5. ... Wow. Just wow. I know what Skype is. I have it on everything. I use it for work, and my guild used to use it (my sister among them) before we got TeamSpeak set up.

This whole cutesy "my our" and "if/when" act is really getting on my nerves, so I'll be blunt: These new consoles are expensive, and I have to buy gifts for several people, not just you. Why should I spend that much money on something I would only get to use to watch The Notebook while you reassuringly pat my head in between games? For the honor of playing the first multiplayer game we get with you? Be still, my beating heart. I'm assuming based on what you've said already that you mean local multiplayer only, which narrows things down considerably within the launch line-up. Call of Duty: Ghosts looks last-gen as hell, you already seem convinced I won't be interested in any of the sports games, and have you even read the reviews for Fighter Within? It sounds absolutely awful.

Maybe I will get you a new console for Christmas, and maybe I won't. Maybe I'll get you the Xbox One, or maybe I'll get you a console that didn't encourage its fans to send condescending and entitled emails to their partners. Maybe I'll wait until either console has a slightly more impressive game library behind it, or until PS4's game streaming service launches. For that matter, maybe I'll bite on a WiiU. I've heard the Legend of Zelda: Windwaker HD remake and Super Mario 3D world are outstanding. 

P.S. I wish you would stop bringing up knitting. I get it. I saw a scarf on Tumblr, I went to Michaels and bought a bunch of supplies, and then I never did shit with them. You don't have to keep bringing it up every time you want something.

P.P.S. If you're not excited about the new Zoo Tycoon then you're not human.

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Mixed reality iris 2013Iris Ophelia (@bleatingheart, Janine Hawkins IRL) has been featured in the New York Timesand has spoken about SL-based design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan andwith pop culture/fashion maven Johanna Blakley.

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CronoCloud Creeggan

I think they've removed the "knitting" option, the default now mentions "doing taxes". However the default still a touch "Women don't game, only dudebros do, so tell her you can watch rom-coms on it", for my sake. But it's Microsoft and they've always focused on the "dudebro demographic" with their Xboxes, even more than Sony has done with the Playstation-foos.

I personally have a launch PS4, since I'm an RPG fanperson it basically plays DCUO and Resogun. The built in twitch/ustream is nice though, you can watch actual long duration gameplay.

forthebestfuture

Writing batshit reviews doesn't help improve the appearance of female gamers. In fact, it's just making it look worse. "si fueris romae, romano vivito more; si fueris alibi, vīvito sicut ibi" - this motto applies to discussed topic for at least next 10 years.(then we'll get our genitalia chopped off and gender-related topics will get old)

CronoCloud Creeggan

@for the best:

What's "When in Rome" supposed to mean in regards to sexism in gaming?

@seriouslynow

I saw your post and it was misogynist.

forthebestfuture

@CronoCloud Creeggan
What I want to say is the worst thing you can do when entering established community is to go hitler on members, trying to rebuild everything to your very own needs, because "that's it", and "i'm not going to discuss it with you".

CronoCloud Creeggan

@for the best:

What do you mean by "established community"? I found the defaults in that xbox letter distasteful and catering to the old stereotypes. I've been playing videogames a looong time.

And how is saying "Hey, you should stop using old sexist gaming stereotypes", "going Hitler". And isn't the term "Going Hitler" a bit of an over-reaction and offensive in and of itself? It's not like Iris (or others) are saying " you have to rebuild everything"
but saying "Hey, stop being jerks."

Serendipidy Haven

Wow! Godwin's Law in just 5 responses and 2 commentators... that must be some sort of internet record. Bravo!

Issa Heckroth

Microsoft are being gender-Nazis! This is just like the third reich!

....sorry, couldnt resit :D.

Austin Walker

@forthebestfuture:

There's a lot of ways to tackle your beef. We could talk about how communities are always-already fluid, unstable things that grow and change. Or about we could have the debate about whether or not, in fact, there are times when we absolutely SHOULD try to rebuild some communities from the ground up.

But we don't actually need to have those conversations, because there's a more fundamental problem with your premise. In your thesis, women (and presumably others like ethnic minorities and LGBTQ individuals?)should accept the social rules and standards of "gamers." When in Rome, you say, they should act like Romans do. Problem is they were in Rome all along, dawg.

Gaming, and geek and nerd culture more broadly (whether you're understanding those things in terms of consumptive, play, or productive practices), have never been an exclusive club of straight white guys, no matter how effective countless efforts of erasure might be. Women helped to conceptualize, build, and operate the first computers, and have been making, buying, and playing computer and video games since there have been computer and video games. The same follows for other groups likely to "rock the boat" with questions about representation in games and gaming culture.

And to the degree that there may be a historical precedent that /more/ men play games (and often, more men of means), that history is tied up with practices of exploitation of affective labor and attempts to actively exclude women (and others) from certain leisure activities. Often this practice was connected to broader ideological programs of categorizing genders, races, and classes according to "natural" potentials and qualities.

Put plainly: the community has always been bigger than you think it is, and to the degree that it is "small" at all, it is small for reasons that are produced (not natural or "organic").

Put even plainer: You done goofed. We all deserve to play and we all deserve voice concerns about the way we're treated.

doobiedoo

Again, I saw nothing wrong or offensive with the ad and I said get your panties out of a wad. It's only offensive in 'The New America'. Blow it out your asses and get on with life, you poor offended wallflowers.

Arcadia Codesmith

Bliss off. You don't like the review, don't read the review. You don't get to dictate the terms of the coversation. Those days are long gone.

Pussycat Catnap

@fortheworstpast:

"go hitler on members"

I do not think that name is who you think it is.
Said individual was about downpressing disempowered minorities.

You can't use him logically to claim a disempowered minority demanding respectful treatment is akin to his conduct.

Pussycat Catnap

@dudebedumb:

"'The New America'. Blow it out your asses and get on with life, you poor offended wallflowers."

You certainly wish downpressed people were wallflowers that would shut up and take it, but those days are gone. You're "Old America" of downpressing people and kicking them when they complain is over.

Its been over for a long time now - and as Oprah noted... your kind will be dead soon.

Bye.

zzpearlbottom

Political correctness, a new dictatorship it looks sometimes!

zzpearlbottom

Political correctness, a new dictatorship it looks sometimes!

Pussycat Catnap

@zzmindbottom:

"political correctness" is a framing made up by conservatives to get people to flip their internal frames, their thinking, when it comes to hate speech - by making a demand for the end of hate and oppression appear to look like an attempt to control.

Go read some George Lakoff on Cognitive Science and Linguistics - learn what you're saying instead of just parroting a right-wing agenda like an ignorant fool.


doobiedoo

@Pussycat

'My kind'? You mean law abiding tax paying , never sucked the welfare system, that kind??? Someone who has never harmed anyone and just lives to make a life for myself, as a productive citizen? I really do not know what you are inferring with that statement.

I merely said something was not offensive and here you are calling for my death, or the death of 'my kind' whatever that means. You froth with blood lust, what a shock! /sarcasm

That's how trap jaw progressives are though, and you are a shining, fine example of that.(LOL)

YOU'RE THE ONE calling people names and wishing for their deaths here, no one else is. Think about that you misguided human, who claims to worship God. Sickening, but what do you expect from a so called Christian, eh?

Arcadia Codesmith

The purveyors of male dominance and white supremecy are dying out. It's none of our doing. It's the cold, impartial hand of time. Pardon us if we shed no tears for society's great losers.

zzpearlbottom

To have the need to call a afro american to someone who just has a diff collor of skin, instead of calling plain and simple, black!
To make sure that on the western , females have the same rights,closing the eyes to wahts going on in Muslin countries!
To say that religion allows for cultural differences while denying that any region is in itslef a source of difference by itself!
To belive that differences are descrimations!
To think that there is no white and blue and red and black, that all should beahve and look the same, clones gazing at each others!
I'm stupid enough to do not be part of this kind of thinking!

doobiedoo

@Arcadia

You should go burn a bra or something to cap off your little soapbox moment. Really.

Kristopher

"Playstation 4? More like Playstation BORE, amirite? " Actually I don't agree with you at all!

PS4 has sold 66% more units than Xbox One

There are some major differences such as

GPU - PS4 1152 - Xbox One 768
PST - PS4 1.84 TFLOPS - Xbox One 1.23 TFLOPS
Sys Mem - PS4 8GB 5500MHz GDDRS - Xbox One 8GB 2133MHz DDR3
Sys Mem Band - PS4 176.0 GB/s - Xbox One 68.3 GB/s

Xbox One requires Kinect to be On at all times, possibly spying on you.
Xbox One requires an internet connection once a day, or you cant play your console.
Xbox One will restrict what you can do with used games.
Xbox One's subscription fee will cost a lot of money to play online.

I don't even know how Xbox fans can stay supporting this new console considering the power difference between the two is HUGE! Also the PS4 will have many more exclusive games than Xbox One due to its amazing specs. Developers will be able to take advantage of this!

Don't even get me started on Xbox's Kinect, subscription fees and other silly restrictions...

Stick to reviewing Second Life...

Iris Ophelia

@Kristopher Bro I was being facetious.

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