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11/16/2007

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greggman

I didn't see the comic that spawned your post but there are a lot of issues mixed up in here.

I'm probably wrong but at first thought I'm happy there has been so much press about Jade. I'm going to be terrible at expressing this but the more it looks like "normal and attractive people" work in the game industry the more likely some people that would not have considered a job in this industry of supposed introverted nerds just might consider it. I think the press of Jade helps that. Then again, maybe it would only help if articles about women like her ran in magazines people outside the community read.

jane

no, Gregg, i don't think you're wrong. i am happy about it too, and the consequences are trivial in the aggregate, because ultimately it is a good thing in the long run that women are increasingly prominently featured. but i do question Ubi's motives, and i deplore that Jade is the brunt of the personal attacks. that's what distresses me. and i think that she is extraordinarily brave to step into the spotlight, which isn't a safe place to be. and i don't think her credibility or reputation will ultimately be damaged, either, by any of this crap. thank goodness!

DannoHung

Yeaaaah, so I went to find this damn thing to see just how bad it is. Where did I find it? The /v/ forums of 4chan, bracketed by a picture of a guy's dick having just ejaculated on a Maxim photo of Morgan Webb.

Nothing if not consistent in depravity, gamers are.

Anyway, I think it's worth noting that Dave Cheung, the guy who drew it in the first place, is essentially unassailable. He breathes controversy; his comic is essentially a cross between exploitation and insult. Here's the image he put on his blog today: http://chugworth.com/crap/360_white.gif

Here's some random thoughts:

1) Is this a new problem? Women have long been used in the marketing of products unrelated to women. Is this perhaps just another rung on the ladder in the evolution of gaming to the mainstream? Is the problem that there's a possibility for a double whammy of "Hey, here's a hot video game chick" and "Hey, here's a hot video game developer chick"?

2) The worst thing about all this is that Assassin's Creed is an *incredible* game and I think that it's getting a bum rap because of this whole shitstorm and the couple of middling reviews it got. In fact, I'm probably gonna go play it again after I'm done writing this.

3) Did Jade have any say in this? I mean, did she know that Ubisoft was selling the game through her? Did she consent? I wouldn't think so, but if she was committed to making the game a success regardless of the cost, maybe she went in on it.

4) As mentioned earlier, Jade isn't the only girl in the gaming industry that gets objectified. One of the guys on a forum I frequent, for instance, had a thing for Gail Tilden, before she left Nintendo.

Maybe there should be a game centered around not being a creep-o. I'm sure that I, and many other gamers, could benefit from some simulations in that area.

pur3r4ge

I too have been completely disgusted with this whole "Jade Raymond" thing. I think in many ways it's as if we as a society have finally begun to attach a real strong negative stigma with racism, but being sexist is completely acceptable, even though it's the exact same problem. I'm infuriated by this for a few very different reasons.

If bloggers want to be considered "real journalists", they should never ever post anything about Jade Raymond's appearance. I've seen many posts about Assassin's or her on a number of high profile blogs that were basically the internet equivalent of cat-calling construction workers. I think that's where all this started.

If people want to denounce her for not being a "developer", they need to get a clue about the people that are the spokespeople for any product in the games industry. It's never the "in the trenches" developers that talk to the press. Those people are too busy to do that. I've seen this as a justification for belittling her: since she's not a designer or programmer, she's clearly just in it for the attention. Obviously this is complete BS, and while I don't know how much creative input she has (producers range from very little to huge amounts of influence), I do know that the job she does is very demanding and it takes a very smart and extremely hard working person to do it well.

People are applying the same standards to her that they apply to the genuinely vapid personalities that populate our pop culture landscape. Personally, I have no problem with the objectification of Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, or any of the people who's only talent is looking beautiful (this applies to a bevy of himbos as well). These are people who have made a livelihood out of being objects. That's the cost of being in the public eye in my opinion, if that's why you're in the public eye. The thing that drives me up the wall is that clearly Jade Raymond is where she is in spite of her appearance, not because of it. She deserves to be judged on the merit of her work only, just like any other developer.

As a person who works in the game industry, I find the whole thing to be extremely depressing, and I feel a great deal of sympathy for Jade, as she's clearly trying to do her job, and is just getting shat upon for it.

Incidentally, I was glad to hear you on the 1up podcast a couple weeks ago, however there were a number of occasions that things were mentioned that made me cringe, because while the comments were mild, there was still some of the same underlying tone that exists with the comments about Jade. I don't think people often even realize when they're being sexist, and I doubt it's intentional, but it's there and it's tragic, and it leads to an acceptance of the type of behavior we're seeing right now.

As a further aside: this is my first post, although I've read your site for a couple years. I have a huge amount of respect for you, and wish there were more strong voices from women in this industry.

CrashT

As much as the attitude of gamers to this whole thing has been utterly juvnile. Ubisoft really did themselves no favours. I can't speak to the abilities or qualifications of Ms Raymond herself but there has clearly been a concerted effort on the part of Ubisoft to use her to market Assassin's Creed; to the point that I suspect more people could reference her name in relation to the game than that of the main character, Altair.

Ubisoft were playing to the audience with this, they knew how their target demographic would react and they seemed all to happy to encourage than when it providing positive press. Ubisoft were the first to objectify Ms Raymond and they should be ashamed. Her image has become so ubiquitous in relation to the game that even people who don't find the comic funny are left feeling that Ubisoft have used her in a very cynical manner.

And for the record Patrice Desilets is a shortish guy with untidy light brown hair, scraggly beard and cheeky grin. ;)

orlandodoom

The offensive Jade Raymond comic is just one example of a common blogosphere effect: entities getting attention by text and/or photo coverage are fair game for lazy haters out to shock. The mob trained to hunger for snark and sleaze eat it up, disingenuously invoking freedom of the press when anyone suggests a slur was wrongly slung.
Gotta say that although JR is smart and talented, she is a producer and not a designer such as Will, Miyamoto or (shudder) Cliffy. Just because you get similar coverage doesn't put you on the same level.

mesoo

Yes, yes, Jane Pinckard please lecture me on this topic of exploiting women in the games industry while you take photos of yourself masturbating with a rez controller.

bukkakefighter

What mesoo? You don't find this a respectable article?

http://www.gamegirladvance.com/archives/2002/10/26/sex_in_games_rezvibrator.html

It's so obvious that it's not the sex in that article that sells.... lols....
Come on now, serious business

darkchild82

I came here after reading a lot of the blog posts & seeing the comic in question (there was also a photoshopped porn pic of hers - won't post the link to that either). I KNEW you were going to write on this topic & share your thoughts.

I do feel sorry for Jade because it would've been just humiliating for her to come in to work & face her co-workers who would've seen the comic. But I do agree with you on Ubi's role in using her as the "model" for the game. Maybe it wasn't exactly exploitation or maybe it could just be that every time there was an Assassins Creed preview event, much of the gamer's attention was on her. It's not her fault that was born with good genes.

It's sad to know that some how as long as there are guys out there who think Jade should've taken it lightly since it was only meant to be a "joke", the image of the male gamer will remain the same. I hope Jade continues to do preview events for which ever title she's a Producer for because she's a qualified woman & I rather see her talk about her team's game than some fake-boobed booth babe hired by the publisher/PR agency.

Anyway, anything else I have to say has already been said by most of the comment-ers here - & pretty much elsewhere. By the way, Jane, it was nice to hear your voice on the 1UP Yours podcast after a looong time. Really made my day ! I just wanted to ask you one thing though:

Do you have any regrets on writing the 'Rez-vibrator' article ? I just ask because people like 'mesoo' think that it's a little ironic that you should be complaining about sexism & the whole GH 3 groupie thingy. There was even a topic on the 1UP boards on the same "issue".

amtran

I think whomever wrote this article is missing the point. Gamings do not care that she's a woman, they care that she's being used a whore. The game is being marketed to the media on her merits, not the game's merits. More credit is given to her than the team itself. There's a difference. Gabe Newell when he shows off the next Half-Life game is not whoring himself out. He's there because he's a big part of the design team (both physically and in actuality) and he is one of the high ups in the company. In being so quick to call sexism, you miss the fact that Ubisoft in reality probably doesn't see her as Valve sees Newell. To Valve he's part of the team, he oversees everything and just seems natural to talk about the games. When Ubisoft sends Jade to talk about the game though, is it because she's the Newell in the AC team or because she's attractive? She's a marketing whore, and nothing else. There's an inherit sexist edge to when she's sent out to talk about the game not because of what she says, but why she was chosen. Many male gamers objections are based on the fact that one single person is being given so much credit over one game and credit is not being given were credit is due. There's also the sexism concern we have that she's being sent because she's hot and because Ubisoft thinks gamers are dumb enough to look past any flaws they think the game has because she has boobs.

If you want sexism, try to find out the real reason Ubisoft sends her out. I can bet that it's because they see her as a great way to move copies because she's attractive, not because she knows what to say.

Legion_Of_Anonymous

To bad the game is essetially kinda average with high production values...I'm fairly certain the only reason it's popular is the fact that "ZOMG WOMENZ HELPED MAEK THE GAME!" which of course sets of a huge stream of obnoxious fanboyism, which the incredibly cynical gamers and/or people of the internet then capitalize on to piss off the fanboys. The inevitable results of pissed off fanboys or unintentional pisssed off parties results in huge amounts of hilarity. Thus nobody learns anything, the perpetrators laugh very hard, and the "victimized" parties don't get any compensation, whether they be Nazi sympathizers or reasonably attractive female game producers. There is no justice, there are no morals, only that which is very funny, and that which is not. And if the internet thinks the result of doing something to someone would be possible and hilarious, the internet will do it for the sake of creating lulz. Thus debating about issues like racism and sexism on the internet is a moot point. You are debating in an environment that does not care, as such concepts are irrelevent to lulz.
Beware the internet and it's anonymous denizens, for we bite if we think your bark will be sufficiently entertaining.

Johny Zuper!

I'm not excusing anyone, but I'd like to add a bit of perspective.

Jade Raymond created a fantasy about a man who goes on a killing spree. Dave Cheung created a fantasy about a woman who has oral sex with two men. They're both fantasies. One about mass murder, the other about consensual sex.

thc

Oh yes, it is SO TOUGH TO BE BEAUTIFUL.

Woe is me.

Men is pigs!

get over it... really. Frankly, I would be flattered.

Jens Alfke

It's an obvious, yet bogus argument to claim that Jane's famous Rez-vibrator post somehow disqualifies her from complaining about what was done to Jade Raymond. It stems from the same attitude as the infamous "look how she was dressed, she was asking for it" defense of rape. It ignores the crucial issues of intent, consent, self-presentation vs. objectification.

The fact is that we are all sexual beings, at least those of us over the age of 11 or so.

We have a right to express that aspect of ourselves. Within reasonable limits, of course: I'm talking about choice of clothing, or how one writes about or photographs oneself, not about fucking in the street. To say that, except for trained professionals, it should be restricted to the bedroom that in public we must all be Barbie and Ken dolls is to play into the hands of the world's prudes and zealots, from Andrea Dworkin and Focus On The Family to the Taliban.

But whether someone wants to do that, or in what context, is purely up to them. You do not drag sexuality into a situation where it is not voluntary, or go beyond limits implied by the situation.

This all seems pretty damn obvious to me. And it seems obviously relevant to this situation. Ubisoft may be making use of some of Jade's sexual appeal. One presumes she understands the situation and is OK with it, but that's a matter between her and her employer. And god knows, it's not like they're sending her out dressed as a booth babe. So for a third party to make explicit sexual references about her is way, way over the line.

And for Jane to have, at one time, pointed out the fact that yes! she is a sexual being, in no way diminishes her other qualifications. Nor does it somehow make her a "fallen woman" who cannot complain about a completely different and mean-spirited use of sex as an attack on another person's character.

Not unless we're somehow living in the 1600s. Or in Iran.

perrinbar

Jane, I must say I do agree with you. This is another instance of the gamer culture being too much of a boys club and a fairly creepy bunch of boys at that. I would like to point out that I agree to a certain extent with the sentiment that Ubisoft has some blame in this because of their sticking Jade so far out in the PR blitz. She deserves her place in it, certainly, but I think Ubisoft hoped to capitalize on her physical appearance and so used her to a certain extent. I don't know Jade so I don't know how involved in those decisions she was, but I wish that wasn't something that companies did, in any industry really, but especially in ours. I feel sorry for Jade because she's been put in a terrible situation because she knows her stuff and is good looking. I wish she hadn't been seemingly thrown to the wolves because it has obviously led to some terrible things. I still support free speech, just not necessarily all the idiots that use it as an excuse for crap like this. Hopefully things will get better, but it's still damn hard for the women in games to get anything seriously done.

zenbot

Who knew so many chauvinists read GGA?

Astromantic

Not to mention that bringing up the Trance Vibrator article disparagingly is part of the most base ad hominem attack: "Jane wrote this article in 2002 which I thought was vulgar and exploitative, therefore she is exploitative, therefore her concerns about the exploitation of Jade Raymond are not valid." That is simply an unfair and ridiculous assumption. You might also try to say that it is in some way hypocritical, but you'd be dead wrong, as was mentioned earlier, by not considering the intents of the two pieces.

What's most infuriating about this whole Jade Raymond thing isn't even the comic; it's that it burst open and boiled over into this attack on her very character. There's an identifiable sexist thinking hiding behind cries of "It's all about Ubisoft's whoring of Jade's whoring of Assassin's Creed!"

Ask why she deserves it? "Because Ubisoft is using her for her looks to whore out the game."
But she's the producer; promotion and PR work is part of her job! "Nono, she's been in all the PR material and besides, she's not even lead designer and she has no creative input."
But there are other prominent producers and designers (Kojima, CliffyB, Jaffe) who also act as 'faces' for their respective games and don't get accused of 'whoring out.' "Those guys all have established mega-hit games and have the history and credentials to validate them! What did this bitch do to get in the door, besides be pretty??!?! How dare you compare Raymond to Kojima!"
But she has a Computer Science degree, has cut her skills programming for Sony and had a producer background at EA before moving into her current role with Ubisoft. "Not good enough!! I haven't heard of her games! She's some nobody getting by on her looks!"
Are you really mad about her being used by Ubisoft to promote the game extensively? Why not take Ubisoft to task? "No, I insist it's Jade's fault for not speaking up about being used."
And is it even fair to point the finger at Ubisoft and Jade for this? No one forced the gaming media to write that she "smells pretty" and attach her mugshot to every post about Assassin's Creed. "Yeah, her face was in every goddamn post I swear!"
No, but what I'm saying is...
"There's no use complaining! Jade should have been prepared for this; this is the internet, blah blah blah..."
You know, this wouldn't even be a point of contention were Jade a man.
"We're not sexist! We're only saying all of these things because Ubisoft is using her for her looks to whore out the game."

Well fuck.

ohk

im not sure what you expect to happen to this sentiment. people resent being influenced. they resent others exerting power over them. expressions of this resentment are inevitable.

the way jade put her sexuality out their (whether or not she was prompted by ubisoft) to push sales is on a continuum with pointing a gun at someones face and asking for their wallet. jane posting pictures of herself masturbating to get blogosphere attention is also on that continuum.

you can get sales figures and site hits by wielding your sexuality, and you get get someones wallet by wielding a gun.

but in neither case can you get someones respect. neither jane nor jade have mine with regards to wielding their sexuality.

John

Wow. To write this article in light of the other one with no apparent sense of irony. Here's the tip: blatant self-exploitation has a way of pissing people off -- even if they seem to eat it up initially.

darkpen

You know what I think? I think this whole debacle wouldn't have blown up if Ubisoft did nothing about that picture being on SomethingAwful forums. I mean it, seriously.

The only reason why this blew out of proportions is because of the fact that Ubisoft sent a cease and desist to begin with. That gave blogs a legitimite reason to post about it, and effectively spread the word. I imagine that had it been left alone, it would've forever remained either on the *chans and somethingawful, or gain some minimal internet attention, and that would have been the end of it.

What I mean is: every well known spokesperson in our industry has been attacked to some extent, with it usually being in a vocal minority, whether through just words (CliffyB looks like a fag/Kojima sucks), or photoshops of god knows what. Men tend to condone sexism because we can, and therefore create controversy and tension because of those who believe otherwise.

I think everyone's to blame for all of this happening, to some degree. I think most of the blame falls onto the blogs and press in general, for plastering her face anywhere and everywhere they could. I think the blame, from there, falls onto Ubisoft for misjudging its audience and letting this get out of control (because, you know, everyone is a sexist pig). As for Jade and her "fans?" I think they were simply the main ingredients that bounce off of eachother based on how everything else is mixed in.

The sort of mentality that surrounds all of this sexuality hubub is what's most disturbing, though, whenever a case like this comes up. There are always ugly women (or very conservative women), and a mixture of men (of whom even I still have difficulty understanding entirely) that blame the victim, and its a damn shame that people jump to the easiest conclusion.

Its not a question of whether or not other individuals in the gaming world (and more importantly, the internet) have been treated just as badly, the question is how differently they are perceived. Even women don't treat women the same way that men treat men, so that sort of comparison is out the window. Its a social stigma that has gone on for thousands of years, and while in some cultures it may have differed in comparison to ours, nothing has really changed, and I don't think it ever will.

FINALmasa

Really, I think this article could use more pictures of yourself masturbating, but I suppose it will have to suffice as it stands. I have to say that your failure to address your own hypocrisy is disturbing, to say the least. Which is it? Should I not find any humor in a political comic that tells the honest truth, or should I write you off for a vapid whore for, well, whoring yourself out? I can just as clearly use your articles out of context to display that I have absolutely no reason to value your opinion, as others have. Why should we only grant such creative license to you? When you take pictures of yourself pretending to masturbate and then swing around and tell us we're not taking you seriously enough, how should we act?

Really, the fact that you find someone's critique of UbiSoft appalling even though from my understanding they fully support you on this issue is just silly. Instead of agreeing to agreement, you decided to go on a rant about how all the beautiful women have an emaciated life because they have things oh-so-hard! That's easy to say for someone that can get thousands of clicks simply by pretending to masturbate to a videogame. You might want to try living in a box for awhile and get back to us.

FINALmasa

Also, I should say that by not linking to the comic, you are trying to put the context as however you wish to manipulate it. How is anyone reading this article supposed to know what views were expressed by it? How do we know that your interpretation of it is even what you actually believe, instead of simply a casus belli to write whatever drivel you wish?

_daxter_

There is not that much to make a fuss about really. I played the game through and it played quite badly on a lot of occasions. I barely finished it because I am studying video games. It is a bad rip-off of Sands of Time, Zelda and all the templar-conspiracy stuff floating around.

That said, to me, it is really questionable if she does good work, but that is not for me to say. I can really understand the bad reviews. The gameplay is highly repetitive. There is no difference between Eavesdropping missions except the locations. Informer tasks are nearly always the same. There is about two to three interesting and challenging viewpoints to climb (but that is out of an approx. total of 100). Freeing citizens is really boring after the 5th time or so. You have/can do it about 50 times though. Stealth kills become a real necessity as the game progresses and the focus on violence really does not make the killing any more interesting. Difficulty is largely built up via quantity of enemies. There is not much quality or depth to be found... etc. etc. etc.

The game crashed about ten times while I played through (about 15 hours)!

So to me it seems that either she did a bad job as a producer or the concept was bad. Either way it is a bad game. Other than that Jade Raymond looks quite nice, but my girlfriend looks better, there is nothing to make such a fuss about. I am sure that she might be forgotten very soon. Very much unlike Miyamoto san.

Brandon

You know, I've thought about it probably more than I should have and I'm still not sure why that guy made the comic about Jade. Does he really believe this stuff? Is he that stupid?

Honestly, I think he was just being the stereotypically immature moron who saw a chance to be mean and gleefully seized it. Maybe he believes it or maybe he doesn't. Maybe it doesn't matter either way. He was presented an opportunity to cause harm to one of his betters and he was the type of degenerate who leapt at this chance. He got attention and the pathetic adoration of similar washouts filled with impotent rage, and probably that's all there was to it.

What a champ. He's definitely king of the trailer trash.

taiki

At this point I really don't care about whether or not Jade Raymond is the real deal, at this point I'm rather concerned with the company she works for.

Ubisoft has been proven to be, time after time, a bunch of cocks. First they sponsor the FragDolls, a clan that distinguishes itself by holding a cattlecall for it's membership drive. Excuse me, but I thought the whole idea behind empowering women gamers was to show that they're just like you and me, not to get pretty girls who happen to be gamers in an attempt to pander to the type who haven't got a chance getting any period.

Then instead of telling the media to knock it off with the fawning over how hot Jade Raymond is, Ubisoft just sort of lets it happen. This is pretty goddamn important because this is what leads up to people thinking that Jade Raymond's being trotted out for for the above types who last saw a real vagina when they were newborn.

So that happens and then the gamer crowd reacts negatively to the media virtually vigorously pleasuring itself over her image rather than the game play by insinuating that she's being trotted out as a sexual object and that's the only reason to buy Assassin's Creed rather than the gameplay itself. Then some person posting on the SA boards decides to poke fun at this and now everyone's pissed off at him. Ubisoft then sues SA founder Lowtax for god knows what reason.

Looking back at that history, I can't blame Jade for being attractive, and I can't blame male gamers reacting negatively to a press that can't get over a hot woman who's actually got brains for games. What I can blame is a press that won't shut up about how she's pretty and doesn't smell like Doritos and mountain dew, and I can certainly blame a company like Ubisoft who employs her who didn't stop this nonsense until it ended up with her being depicted as giving some gamer dork that elusive 5th happy ending. Now can we all go back to taking giant heaping shits on Kane and Lynch?

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