Rantback: Juicy Morsels

Welcome to the first Rantback , which consolidates lots of little thoughts into one post. In this issue: Feminine form in video games, Cancer, Pets, and Teaching.

The Feminine Form in Video Games

Over on Slashdot, I just read an interesting article about the portrayal of the feminine form in video games. Frankly, I find most of this stuff a little ridiculous, and I think some of the commenters pointed out most of my issues, but this is the Rants, so I thought I’d mention it. Basically, video game developers (and purchasers) are villainized for the games having only female character with exaggerated (big breasts/eyes, tiny waist) physical characteristics.

Okay. My response? “So what?” The men are idealized, too- tall, dark, successful, powerful, muscular, no receeding hairlines, no bear bellies. Moreover, it’s not just men who like seeing attractive female figures. Pick up a women’s magazine at the checkstand of your local supermarket- there are big-breasted women on every other page. It’s not about what sex you are– Humans are programmed to like looking at attractive people. Thanks, I had to get that out of my system.

Cancer

Whitney in my lab just found out that a cousin of hers, around age 30, has been diagnosed with Bladder cancer (which has something like a 1% survival rate)… So she’s understandably upset. Cancer is a topic that’s always been near and dear to me, since my Mother had breast cancer, and I had to seriously contemplate losing her. Hell, watching her suffer through chemotherapy was enough to break my heart. It was almost unreal how terrified my family was. I’m thankful every day that she pulled through, and I love her very much.

The strange thing is, even with all that, cancer is… fascinating. It’s one of the strangest chemical and biological processes cells can go through, and it’s amazing reading about efforts to understand and treat it. One thing I wonder about a lot (and occasionally debate with Teisha) is whether the rate of cancer has really risen in modern times, or if it’s a by-product of living longer, or a little from Column A, a little from Column B. What do you think?

Pets

I’m such a bad parent! There, I admitted it. I keep my pets (lizards and rats) fed and watered, but I don’t devote nearly enough time and attention to them– letting them out to play, buying them stimulating toys, getting them treats. If I were one of my pets, I’d be bored stiff. Which makes me terrified of ever getting a Doggie, at least where I am in life right now. They need attention, and life gets awfully busy awfully quickly. How do other pet owners deal with this?

Teaching

I just finished being a Teaching Assistant for Microbiology Lab, and wanted to quickly ruminate on the course. I really, really enjoy teaching. I like seeing my words and actions invoke that look of dawning comprehension on a student’s face, I like leading people, and I like having a platform to show my viewpoint and way of looking at science (I bet those poor biology students got more chemistry then they were expecting!).

That all said, it was one of my first times teaching, and there’s a LOT I can do to improve. First off, I didn’t devote nearly enough time to preparing before lectures. I didn’t give them enough lectures, and I didn’t prepare enough materials before-hand, laving me to give them additional info during the class on a one-on-one basis, which often let people slip through the cracks without learning some things. Also– being fair about grading is very difficult– both in writing quizzes and in grading everything.

All that said, I can’t wait to teach again. Especially when bolstered by student’s comments such as “you’re the best TA I’ve ever had” or “The best way to improve the course would be to have Andrew TA all the sections”. ๐Ÿ˜€

7 Responses to “Rantback: Juicy Morsels”


So… you think big-breasted women are attractive?

teisha - December 9th, 2005 at 3:32 pm

Really though, with the female figure in video games, I think what my problem really is is that most lead characters are males. The females are more often than not a distraction, a side-note, or just an object that has no real value. However, this is really speaking in broad terms about video games… there are some that do not do this as much (i.e. many games like Tekken and Mortal Kombat). I was thinking more about games like Grand Theft Auto, and even in your beloved City of Heroes I noticed this — yes, you can play male and female characters, but the AI villains is usually composed of males — strong tough guys — that often have captured weak, defenseless women you rescue (yes, sometimes men too though). There are hardly any strong, female villains that I ever saw… but I could be wrong again.

teisha - December 9th, 2005 at 3:39 pm

I knew you’d attack me over that generality, Teisha. ๐Ÿ˜› I personally find petite females more attractive, generally, though I do like smooth skin and curves, like most guys.

Beyond the aesthetics, though, I think you’re on to one actual failing of video games: Not enough strong-willed and forceful females. It’s true. I think game designers are slowly starting to move away from that.

But, in their defense, Samus, the beloved star of countless Metroid games, was revealed to be female, and the fans accepted and embraced that. So all hope is not lost.

Paradoxdruid - December 9th, 2005 at 3:47 pm

I play The Sims. That’s my main video game distraction. Both genders can be fat, slim, or fit. That’s about it, so I don’t get too bogged down in it. I actually don’t care how women look in video games as much as I do in magazines. Those are real women and the average women does NOT look like that.

I think that the cancer rate may increase slightly, but I also think that we have better diagnostic techniques and we live longer (so are more likely to get cancer). I would add that as the levels and types of carcinogens in the environment change, so do cancer rates- and they can increase or decrease.

Gilvoro and I have two cats. I love them both, but I don’t play with them enough. Luckily, with cats, little toy mice and such often take care of things. I think that when you adopt a pet that isn’t caged all day, it makes things easier. They initiate interactions on their own with you and it’s harder to “forget” to play fetch or go on a walk.

I LOVE teaching, too. It’s part of why I’m taking my new job (lab coordinator and teaching assistant). Have you ever heard or microteaching and/or video asessments? I suggest those if you want to pinpoint ways to improve while in front of the class. Also, in my experience, preparing good lectures isn’t as important as preparing good alternatives to lectures. The problem, of course, is that interactive activities are much harder and more time consuming to design. The up-side is that they usually learn the material better.

ShortSpeedFreak - December 10th, 2005 at 8:29 am

If I were to villainize groups for propogating overly exaggerated sexual features, the video game industry would be near the bottom. A lot of the major x-rated magazines have been known to use computers now days to mix and match their centerfold models, so they aren’t really one model but a combination of several. This allows them to get physically impossible combonations. Also, with digital photography editing tools at the state they are, I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they moved to a model but computer augmented them while doing computer airbrushing. But nudey mags are such and obvious target, and the people who buy them really aren’t looking for realistic women in there, they are looking for the unobtainable, and the mags are trying to make a profit by have the “best” unobtainable. How about something more insidious.

Go to your local supermarket and look at the magazines at the checkout counter. Or watch TV, or any movie cast with real people. How about going to your local mall and taking a look in the clothing stores. I could go on and on. But there’s something important that I’m getting to with these examples:

All of the images that are portrayed as the generic human (male or female) by these institutions are pictures of actual humans who happen to be, quite honestly, mutant freaks of nature that no average human can obtain. I’m could care less about computer games using the Barbie model for human portrayal because we don’t associate rigid plastic or computers nearly as much as we do actual, or what appear to be actual, pictures of real humans (mutants).

Cancer is a hard thing to go through. My Aunt Gretchen had ovarian cancer and had to have a hysterectomy to save her life. Currently my Grandpa Reisig is dealing with, what started as a rare form of lung cancer, but has now spread to his kidneys and who know where else. We are making great leaps and bounds towards fighting cancer. Some lung cancers can now be treated with a simple pill that has a rather impressive success rate. Other interesting treatments in the pipeline include microscopic balls of gold with little receptors that are specially designed to attach to a persons specific cancer, but not to their healthy cells, and then using a laser or sonic device that is set up to be at one of the harmonics of the gold ball to excite it, heat it up and destroy what it’s attached to (the cancer), while doing little damage to the surrounding tissue.

With some of these biochips coming out, we could be up for some really cool new treatments.

stephen - December 10th, 2005 at 8:08 pm

And as usual I’ve forgotten my login and can’t direct this to its proper Linkdumpy home.
But an interesting idea and site:
http://postsecret.blogspot.com/

Fleepy - December 12th, 2005 at 1:38 pm

Female form conversation:
Well since the only video game I’ve ever played is SmashBrothers’, I have to admit that I don’t think Kirby is the ideal of any human form (except perhaps that of a midwesterner…) But maybe Kirby isn’t female. That’s a pretty masculine brick he/she/it turns into ๐Ÿ˜‰

Along the lines of Stephen’s post, I have to share an incident I overheard in a store a few weeks ago (I think it was The Gap). The sales clerk was extolling the virtues of this “new cut” to a customer. Saying how revolutionary it was. Apparently, this new cut of pants (the “curvy” fit), is smaller around the waist then the hips. Well, DUH! Revolutionary??!! Isn’t it one of those defining characteristics that women have smaller waists than hips? And we’re only NOW designing pants that take that into account?

My point is that most pants out on the market (in today’s fashion at least) are designed to make the hips look slimer and are a “boy-cut”. Sorry, if most women fit into an actual “boy-cut” pant, the fashion industry would crash.

Okay, so I’m bitter becuase I hate shopping, esp for pants ๐Ÿ˜›

Cancer:
I (thankfully) have had few run-ins with cancer. My grandmother is currently being treated for colon cancer and it’s amazing what modern medicine has done. We initially thought she would only have another 3 or 4 months, that this would be her last Christmas, but instead she’s doing well enough to terrorize the family in her usual way! And I heard on NPR that the same drug she is getting for her cancer may actually help with my grandfather’s macular degeneration!

That’s about all I can contribute on the cancer side…I’m an IN-GIN-NEER, not a biologist. Ask me about fatigue cracking though, and I’ll put you to sleep!

Pets:
Ah, pets…umm, can I plead the 5th? My cat is a spoiled little rotten furball. But he’s cute and soft and fuzzy and so huggable, I just want to hug him and squeeze him (he squeaks!) and love him!

Perhaps my middle initial actually stands for Elmira?

My cat and I deserve each other.

Mallorn - December 12th, 2005 at 8:46 pm

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