To crush your enemies with your ePeen

Arnold Schwarzenegger as Conan the Barbarian, when asked what is best in life, responded with the famous quote: “To crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women.”. If you had to describe that point of view, you’d inevitably end up with something like “macho”, something which makes it clear that this is a very male sentiment, which is unlikely to be shared by many women. There are online games that are very much about crushing your enemies, in the sense that you don’t only want to win, but also want to see the loser suffering. And it isn’t for nothing that people call the attitude of inflated ego and imagined superiority in online games “ePeen”, another very male reference.

So I am not at all surprised about the news that EVE Online in spite of its very female name only has 4% of female players. To me EVE has always been the ultimate ePeen game, the one game that enables you to crush your enemies, see them driven before you, and to hear the lamentation of their women. Or to be more precise, it is the game where crushing your enemies with your ePeen is the unique sales point of the game, while the more peaceful activities like mining are much less attractive, not to say boring.

On the other hand I don’t really see a problem with having a game which almost exclusively attracts men. I doubt that the Playboy has more than 4% female readers, and I don’t think anybody considers that a problem. Other content creation industries aren’t targeting 50:50 gender equality for their products either, there are clearly “chick flick” movies, books for male and female audiences, and lots of men and women magazines. I’d be very much opposed to some sort of regulation that tried to ensure that everything published had to be equally attractive to men and women. I would however very much like to see a game similar to EVE with a virtual galaxy to explore which *isn’t* all about ePeen and hurting people, and offers more interesting peaceful and PvE activities. Gender equality isn’t about making everything the same, it is about valuing men and women equally, in spite of their differences.

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10 Responses to “To crush your enemies with your ePeen”

  1. Tori Bergquist says:

    @Syncaine it's got its audience, but the rest of the industry would be spread pretty thin if it all catered to that same narrow audience.

    @Gevlon there are people for whom crushing the opposition…regardless of mechanism….is not the point of interest in a game. Just imagine a game that fosters cooperation and respect. Hell, I'm playing it right now (GW2). The satisfaction of a good experience that's not achieved at someone else's expense; amazing!

    @amuz ayup. I was thinking the same thing. Tobold, you could get some serious traction in terms of vitriol if you could get noticed by some corners of internet feminism who would vehemently disagree with the idea that content with a specific gender focus is okay.

  2. syncaine.com says:

    "it's bad game design"

    That bad game design has lead to the only MMO still growing after 10+ years. If only everything else in the genre was as poorly designed.

  3. amuz says:

    Gender equality isn't about making everything the same, it is about valuing men and women equally, in spite of their differences.

    While I am 100% with you you must be aware that this statement sets you enirely apart from the feminist (and thus: political and medial) mainstream. You sir, are an heretic!

  4. Michael says:

    It's not player nature, it's bad game design, where the majority of interactions with other players ends up net negative.

    It's not just people being reduced to animals in a value-neutral world, it's EVE itself. The game is full of design decisions working to provide a constant stream of victims to the worst people out there.

    Damn near everything in the game seems designed to punish you for staying in empire. The best asteroids, moon goo's, ice, planet quality, and even rat bounties are all out in null sec. The best exploration content, gases, and PvE non-mission content is in wormholes. And I've heard people pushing to get rid of empire space missions, too.

    Eve has some of the most asymmetric pvp I've ever seen. Most victims don't have any chance of fighting back. Ships that aren't pvp-focused are damn near helpless against those that are. This isn't like a chess match or battlefield, player skill against player skill, the outcome is determined the moment you get caught.

    Eve is a game where you're either restricted to a very narrow band of activities (trading, missions, industry), forced to live as a second class citizen to partake of all the rest of the content, attempt for more and submit to being prey to any and all of the horrible people out there, or become a horrible person yourself.

  5. Gevlon says:

    I'm not trying to crush them with MY E-peen. If I would, I wouldn't teach people how to earn money, just do it myself and just make statements like "i haz skillz in money". They are competitive, they are aware that they aren't the biggest fish in the ocean, they can live with the fact that some Gevlon guy beat them.

    I want to teach EVERYONE to beat them. I want EVERYONE to beat them, even 8 years old girls. Because that would crush them.

  6. Rugus says:

    I was waiting for Gevlon's ePeenic response and guess what? I was not disappointed.

  7. Tobold Stoutfoot says:

    Actually I'm on a quest to prove that they have nothing but an empty wasteland while the money is in highsec, where they can't really bully people and where peaceful people can thrive.

    Apparently you fail to see the irony of trying to crush these people with YOUR ePeen. You aren't any different than they are in your attitude, you just pursue a different path towards that goal of virtual superiority.

    Just like with Train, sometimes the right decision is to refuse to play.

  8. yellobird says:

    based on my experience from photography and volleyball workshops, I can tell you that the ePeen competition is in full bloom in the female population … maybe you just don't see it that much in games with 95% males (I believe it is more the attitude of the male gamers than the inherent play2crush design that keeps openly-female players out).

  9. Gevlon says:

    EVE isn't made to be like this.

    Imagine that you and your friends are the only players. You would mine, rat and do missions to gather materials, than you'd move on a quest to colonize new worlds. EVE has the tools for that.

    The players choose to use all these tools to hurt other players. It's not EVE, it's us.

    If you don't like it, I don't think the proper action is just to uninstall EVE and go to a game, where GMs protect you. The bullies just celebrate.

    The proper action is to fight back the bullies. It's not that hard by the way. You have no idea how much they are upset on my financial adventures and constantly showing how poor they are.

    Actually I'm on a quest to prove that they have nothing but an empty wasteland while the money is in highsec, where they can't really bully people and where peaceful people can thrive.

    Why don't you do something similar instead of whining? This would indeed be an epic quest, not just "kill 10 rats".

  10. Hagu says:

    I would say that the low % of women in EVE is not the problem per se; rather it is a symptom of the problem.

    I am disappointed that most current sandboxes tend to go the EVE route.

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