středa 17. února 2016

Space Crusade of Prodos Games

It's been a long time since my last post - for some reason, finishing studies and moving out takes away a lot of hobby time! Anyway, no new miniatures to show off yet, just a short opinion piece regarding Prodos Games' newest creation, and the community reaction to it.

So what's the fuss all about? Just few days ago, Prodos Games (the company behind Warzone Resurrection and Alien vs Predator) released Space Crusade, a new line of "sexy" miniatures accompanied with a tabletop game.

From my point of view, there are several problematic points with this release:

Plagiarism. Original Space Crusade is a classic boardgame set in the familiar setting of Warhammer 40.000. I'm sure many fans would welcome the boardgame to return in a new edition, as they did with Space Hulk and would with Necromunda and other classic Games Workshop products. We don't know much about the Prodos' Space Crusade setting - apart of the fact that it's filled with cheap scantily-clad female clones of Games Workshop Space Marines and Daemons. This is not just cheap and unoriginal, but also unethical and bordering on plagiarism. Or is this supposed to be a parody? If it is, I guess I'm just missing the humor.

Objectification of women. Sexual objectification involves "a woman being viewed primarily as an object of male sexual desire, rather than as a whole person." In short, objectification reduces women to a sexualized object of desire. Just look at that picture above and tell me there's nothing wrong with it. The comically dougnut-shaped breasts and extra wide hips accompanying a wasp waist, the stripperiffic armour used just to visually emphasize the unrealistically sexualized body parts, the flirteous pose. The side picture even gives us an emphasized male gaze perspective, focusing on the sexualized body while ignoring the face of the model.

All of the game's models are like this or worse - basically, the whole miniature line is based on titilation and fan service. So what's the problem with this? Well, alienation of the female public for start. Reproduction of harmful stereotypes to continue. And of course, there are many negative stereotypes about geek subculture and wargamers in particular regarding their attitude to women and this is just going to reinforce these.

Funnily enough, it seems like the whole world of Space Crusade consists only of women; there are no male models available so far. Which is probably for the good.

 Feedback and Prodos' reaction to it. Space Crusade has induced an explosive reaction on the internet. On Facebook, many wargamers voiced their negative opinion, only to get called censors or "SJWs" by Prodos apologetics (or "white knights", if we join the name-calling game). Similarly, on Dakkadakka, the reaction was mostly negative since the very beginning. Prodos' reaction to early criticism was the announcement of a PG-13 version of the game, though the negative reaction continued. Why? Well, I guess that when you alienate a significant portion of your customers, it takes some time to heal the scars. Also, the PG-13 version doesn't really deal with the problem itself - it's mostly just a way for Prodos to cash more on this while they retain the original product, which is the real subject of criticism.

Meanwhile, the discussion turned into a flame war. On Facebook, the person behind Prodos Games account actually tried to dig up dirt on one of the more vocal critics, only to delete most of the discussion afterwards, when that turned out - surprise - to actually worsen the situation. On Dakkadakka, Prodos representative engaged in an amusing argument with Artemis Black from Hasslefree Miniatures over whose miniatures are more sexist, threatened the mods with leaving the forum, and resorted to the normalizing apology of "everyone does it, so do we". I understand Prodos' frustration over the community reaction, but could they get any less professional? Feels like it would show them off in better light if they wouldn't react at all. Sometimes less is more - and not only when it comes to women's attire, Prodos.

This isn't the first time with Prodos. I remember a similar discussion about unnecessary sexualization regarding some of the first Warzone Resurrection miniatures such as Laura Vestal and Valkyries. Back then, Prodos made a rather schizophrenic statement that they will continue to release both realistic and "sexy" female miniatures. Thankfully, they went with the more realistic route since then, though we still get silly g-string armor on some minis.

Note that I consider myself a Prodos Games fan - I liked most of their work so far, especially the Warzone Resurrection line, which I am a customer of. But that doesn't stop me from voicing my opinion on something which I find unethical and harmful. It's a shame Prodos Games went the easy route this time - cashing on cheap plagiarism and sexualization - instead of offering us a a more elaborate product, such as, I don't know, a Warzone Resurrection board game.

As usual, any comments are welcome! What's your opinion on Space Crusade and all the fuss about it?

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