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Episode 87

The Indoor Kids

The SXSW Smosh Show with…

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The Indoor Kids #87: The SXSW Smosh Show with Jovenshire!

This week Kumail and Emily welcome Josh Ovenshire of Smosh Games and King of the Nerds to talk about being on a reality show about nerds, how he got his start in the gaming world (hint: it involves ghosts), sexism in gaming, and more. Plus, at the beginning, you get the bonus of Kumail and Emily’s SXSW diary. We take you on the gaming expo floor, we take you backstage at comedy shows, and we give our thoughts on virtual reality. With cameos from Natasha Leggero, Martin Starr, and Ken Marino!

Games Discussed:

Mass Effect, God of War, Devil May Cry, Bayonetta, Darksiders, The Walking Dead, Dante’s Inferno, Year Walk, Metal Gear Solid, Dead Space 3, Gears of War, Mortal Kombat, Injustice, Street Fighter, Tomb Raider

Movies Discussed:

Star Wars, Star Trek

TV Shows Discussed:

King of the Nerds, Big Bang Theory

Webseries Discussed:

Geekdown, Damsel in Distress

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42 comments

  • Just to let you know that I’ve been listening to this and other podcasts at work way after they’ve been released, so they aren’t that disposable!

  • I do agree that there are two sides to the whole women in games discussion. I am 100% in agreement with Kumail and Emily’s perspective. The Guest, on the other hand, stuck his foot in his mouth when he said we should get past the whole feminism in games debate. There is a discussion to be had here and we have a long way to go. The only way to move forward is to KEEP talking about it.

  • This guy came across as a bit closed and very settled in his opinions on things that I don’t think he’d put a lot of thought into. It was a bit like listening to a child.

    Also he believed in ghosts.

    These podcasts in general are great though.

  • It wasn’t the challenging of the idea that came off as an attack, but rather the way you chose to challenge that idea. Using your most recent post to me as an example: you could have said that you disagreed and explained why; you could have challenged my idea by explaining why you thought I was mistaken. Instead you decided to challenge my idea by calling it “laughable”. Whether or not you meant that as a personal attack, can you see how I might be justified in reading it that way? And looking at it in that light, can you see how making Kumail out to be some sort of reactive, closed-minded, Gollum protecting his precious video games from outsiders might come off as a reductive and offensive attack?

  • “When addressing a person who’s opinion is different from yours it’s always best to adopt a stance of moral superiority. That way when they disagree with you they look like they’re defending an immoral position.”

    -The Internet

  • Kumail’s argument against the first episode of Tropes in Video Games is dismissive and, frankly, lazy. Sarkeesian’s first video was discussing the HISTORY of the damsel in distress trope, in order to educate those viewers who might not be very video game literate. I find it ridiculous that Kumail felt like he was “attacked.” Maybe as a male gamer Kumail is threatened by an “outsider” critiquing his beloved video games, but wouldn’t a gamer want to think CRITICALLY about what they’re consuming on a day-to-day basis??? At least Emily mentioned the way video games can have an effect on a gamer’s psyche. Just look at the disgusting and disturbing way that Sarkeesian was harassed by male gamers online.

  • This podcast conversation totally ignored the fact that only 11 percent of video game creators are women. If there were more women in the video game industry creating these games, then there would naturally be more positive representations of women in video games. The video game industry has a long way to go.

  • I loved this podcast (and Jovenshire) until the last twenty minutes. :/

    I think what really got me about your talk with Jovenshire about feminism (aside from his defending the reduction of a female protagonist to a sexualized object of Fox McCloud’s desire [THEY PUT HER IN A BIKINI FFS] because it’s good business) is how you all fell into the same comments Anita’s trolls made and are making just without the vitriol.

    “But she hasn’t done this, this or this!” Well, it’s the first video. How much did you expect her to cover in this one video about this one trope? You guys did come back to “well, it is only her first video” but then you jumped straight into comments like these:

    “She’s only talking about old games when sexism was still considered okay! Of course video games are going to seem awful concerning women.” Well, it’s the first video, about the ~history~ of the Damsel in Distress. She did bring up some newer games and the evolution of female characters. She made some really great points about Zelda, for instance. I was hoping she would discuss Midna, but maybe that will come up in a Sidekicks centric video.

    “She isn’t bringing anything new to the table!” Well, it’s the first video and one that’s about the oldest sexist trope & how it has changed. She has to start at the beginning.

    “Where’s all the money?” Games, consoles, production materials? It could be going to her rent for all I care. Everyone who donated on her Kickstarter saw how much was being donated and decided to donate anyway. It’s not like she’s pulling an Amanda Palmer. She’s producing what she said she would produce with the funds she received.

    “Why is it taking so long?” She has games to play, history and culture to research, the videos to shoot, video game footage to compile, editing to do etc etc Did I mention she has games to play?

    “There’s only one picture of her playing video games as a kid!” I don’t think I put down a book from the age of five to fifteen, but there are maaaybe two pictures of me reading, at most? There are a few more of me as an adult, but the grand total isn’t more than five. Maybe she has more pictures and doesn’t like them? Maybe her parents didn’t take many? Maybe it doesn’t matter for what she’s doing.

    “She’s talking about the problems, but isn’t suggesting any solutions.” Do you actually want her to suggest solutions though? She’s getting so much hate as an outsider for just commenting on the problems. Would you really be comfortable with her offering the solutions? I can imagine the magnitude of the indignation that would follow (not necessarily from you two personally, but certainly parts of the gaming community).

    Jovenshire’s commet about things being funny because they are rooted in truth felt skeevy to me. It felt like he was saying, “Haha un-pc jokes (racist, sexist, etc) are funny because they are rooted in truth, amiright guys?” Also, yay gaming industry! We have one game where there is a playable female character that doesn’t appear half-naked on the box art! We’ve made such strides! Shepard being crazy awesome does not erase all of the issues that existed and still exist in games.

    “You could talk about feminism in any kind of media! Why is she picking on gaming?” She has already tackled some of these tropes in television. Now she’s educating herself about similar issues in another media.

    I understand that it’s hard to see the things you loved being criticized, but that doesn’t mean you have to stop loving them or be a dick about it. Acknowledge its problem (and don’t try to ignore it! Mr. “I don’t think we need to focus on sexism in video games anymore”) and enjoy its strengths. I enjoyed Anita’s video and watched it all the way through, twice. Once before this podcast and once after. It went a bit slow at times, but was certainly never unbearable. I’d also throw out there that if you want to give a solid critique of something, maybe you should watch more than just bits of it (again, not a personal comment).

    To leave the topic of feminism and sexism aside: I use LEGO sets as shelf decorations in my house, so I’m going to have to take Kumail’s side on the resin figures argument. Show off the things you love! Mass Effect figures would be amazing living room pieces.

  • Allyson, I just wanted to say that being dismissive of Anita Sarkeesian’s videos isn’t the same thing as being dismissive of feminism. Not even the same ballpark. You don’t have to agree with everything every feminist says on the topic of feminism in order to support feminist ideals. That kind of divisive, polarizing rhetoric fuels the problem instead of working towards a solution, in my opinion.

    That said, I don’t even think they were being dismissive, just expressing some misgivings.

  • If you followed her kickstarter at all, Anita is aiming this not towards established gamers, necessarily (though you guys clearly have a ways to go), but for education. One of the stretch goals/things she added when she got all this money was supporting this for education, and taking it to schools and not necessarily going to all gamers. I appreciate that in the videos she made it something that non-gamers could watch and understand what the problem is, and that you don’t need to know everything. It’s clear, concise, and gets her point across.

    Also, sick of the “Where’d the money go?” talk. Compare this video to her old videos. There’s a really clear improvement in quality of the actual filming (Upgraded her camera, lighting set-up,etc.) and made things a lot more professional. She bought a good deal of games to be comprehensive and thorough, as well. She also gets zero revenue from her site/youtube, so there are time/site costs as well. Her initial goal was more than reasonable, and adding on more videos and more education tools as a way to give back feel totally fair.

    I agree with the above commenters: have Anita on your podcast, talk about the project. Because lately I’ve honestly felt a bit uncomfortable with some of the things you guys do on the podcast (the talk objectifying Lara Croft being one of those things), and that would be a really great way to get a discussion going.

    Just a bit frustrated because I normally love the podcast, I love gaming, but nothing pushes my buttons more than being dismissive of feminism.

  • Not sure how anyone can say there’s not really a problem with sexism in games while listening to the pervy discussion of Lara Croft’s body which – shockingly – began less than one minute into discussion of Tomb Raider. This is also a rejoinder to those who talk about how male leads in video games have extraordinary physiques: it is simply not processed, discussed, or consumed in remotely the same fashion. Then of course there’a also all the background power dynamics (e.g., women get paid less for the same work, etc.).

    Signed,

    A man.

  • Actually it more seems like an LA elitists comment after listening again. New York and Chicago are the only none LA area cities that are okay to some close minded people. Forget historically important Philly, industrial important Pittsburgh, Cleveland, or Detroit. Or every other part of the US. Everyone outside of NY or LA are idiot rascists. Oh Chicago is the generic Midwest city we deem okay though. Hmmm. Yes I understand I’m way too mad about a stupid minor comment. That’s my burden to carry. Im not even mad anymore after getting to write it out. Fuck Cleveland, its a fine city but I’m with you guys now.

  • Kumail, what’s up with the Cleveland is a bunch of rascists on Benson? Did you have a bad time once? I’m sorry if you did. I think you are great but I have never found Cleveland as a rascist city. Chicago which you said you were cool with on the other hand I have had some questionable experiences with. But I wont say the whole city is full of rascists.

  • Josh, you can’t just name drop Mass Effect and come to the conclusion, “Here, sexism in gaming solved!” It took Emily, Kumail and Dominic Dierkes ALL of episode #9 to solve racism in gaming.

  • I agree with the last two comments. Curious about where Anita’s show is headed? Ask her yourself. Her insight is very reasonable, and she seems to have a good sense of humor as well. Talking to her on this show would be fascinating.

    Also, ghosts don’t exist.

  • I wanna back up wat tldr85 said! Have Anita on your show! I’m a huge fan of both Indoor Kids and Feminist Frequency and I want peace, love, and understanding!

  • Anita Sarkeesian would make for a very interesting guest on your show. Kinda weird that you’d bash her for what seemed to me to be moderately ill-defined reasons. Nevermind drudging up the “where’s the money?” complaint for the _first episode_ of what will be a long series (originally intended to be a short series), which predates the premiere of this show.

    I’ll admit the first episode was a little dry, but I never thought it was boring and I expect she’s planting ideas and topics that’ll be better developed in later installments.

  • THEY’RE NOT!? Then why do I care about them? And…oh shit you guys…does that go for movies, too? Wow, now I can’t get invested in those either. And wait, don’t tell me…books…TV shows…all those people…are fake?

    You can call the discussion masturbatory, but a work of fiction is an expression (and therefore a reflection) of the views of the people who make it, which is then condoned and accepted by the people who consume it and approve of it. If we promote sexist attitudes in a fictional scenario by depicting a fictional world with no context, cost, or consequence to objectifying or marginalizing women then we promote those attitudes in real life, and therein lies the problem. The people may be fake and the stories may be made up, but ideas are powerful things and if you disagree then ask a woman living under an extremist regime forced by the authorities to marry the man that raped her (based on nothing but an interpretation of an idea written down in a book centuries ago!!) if she thinks that pervasive and unchecked ideas of sexism in a society are a good thing.

  • Guess I’m alone in thinking that video game feminism is the most boring and masturbatory and useless topic to talk about. (FYI video game characters are not actual humans).

    Also thought it was hilarious that you thought MK characters had better design/originality than SF. GG for palette swapped generic ninjaguysuitman.

  • Uuuugggghh…I hate to be negative here, but it really really bothers me when people slag on reviewers’ morals and imply they get paid off for reviews, like Josh did for a second in this episode (by juxtaposing himself against these hypothetical hacks that he purports exist). It’s not a thing that happens, and it’s a really immature argument and low shot to take as this is not something that publishers or reviewers do ever. I’ve had to deal with people making these kinds of accusations on every venue imaginable ever since I started following the enthusiast games press and it drives me craaaaazy that people still believe it’s a thing. Not to mention how it makes my friends who actually write/have written for major games publications feel, when some readers still insist they’re willing to put their hard-earned careers on the line for a measly payout, and when professional reviews have been proven to only marginally affect game sales in the first place.

    Sorry, this is just a touchy subject for me. People have used this beyond-flimsy argument for decades, and it just really ticks me off when it’s brought up under the auspices of it being true at all.

    Love the show, great episode as always. <3

  • Hm. Maybe he should have chosen his words a bit more carefully, but I didn’t get a misogynist jerk-off vibe. To me it felt like he was coming from a place of frustration with the broad, lazy way that all video games are often dismissed as sexist. Ironically, when a feminist adopts the attitude that all video games are sexist based solely on reactive pop media portrayal, he or she is making the same kind of overbroad pejorative statement that a sexist makes when saying that all women are {insert sexist myth here}.

    We can comfortably say that some games are shitty and misogynistic. We can even say that many games have sexist tones or themes that should absolutely be addressed. But to paint the entire video game industry (including the gamers) as overtly and unapologetically sexist is to commit an uninformed, vindictive act of slander and frustration with people who do that is completely understandable.

    I’ll also go even further out on this limb and say that every time someone cries wolf and attempts to publically defend an undefendable stance it gets harder to take them seriously the next time they get up in arms about something, regardless of whether or not they’ve finally stumbled across an actual wolf.

  • I just wanted to second what Peter said about how Jovenshire wanted to “move on” from feminism. It sounded a lot like he was unwilling to engage in a very necessary dialogue. And when he said he was “defending feminism,” I actually laughed out loud.

    Regarding Sarkeesian, that first episode was useless. Looks like the second one is shaping up to be as well. But actually, the concept of a feminist diving into a library of modern games that she’s playing for the first time and giving her critiques is pretty cool. She’s going to be noticing tropes more experienced gamers, even those who are feminists, take for granted.

  • Who are Anita Sarkeesian’s videos aimed towards. I mean if you’re a hardcore gamer it’s nothing new. But if you’re a casual gamer, or not familiar with the gaming industry it’s probably new or informative to you.

    I am a huge comic fan. And there are stories, documentaries, etc etc where I don’t learn anything new. But that’s not a bad thing, because it helps educate other people to maybe bring them closer to my level or help them understand what I’m into.

    By the way, Josh is the first guest I’ve heard where I cringed when hearing him say we need to move on from feminism and sexism in video games. All the abuse Anita got for her project is proof that it still needs to be addressed.

  • Games don’t portray anyone right, I mean look at all the dudes in games. Muscles, can grow sweet facial hair with no trouble. Plus I mean fairy tales and even mythological stories have women in distress too.