Quick hit: Puzzlebots

From the casual stereotyping department comes Puzzlebots. First off, I want to make it clear that this particular game is not unique in this regard at all. It’s just a convenient example that I came across today.

Taking a look at the characters page, there are 2 women in the humans (emphasis mine):

“Thanks to her many years in the Japanese school system, Yuriko is smart, industrious, and almost pathologically shy. She harbors a secret crush on Zander, which may remain a secret forever the way things are going.”

“Astrid is a bit like a flower on a cactus.  Pretty from a distance, but almost guaranteed to hurt you if you get too close.  She captures Zander’s attention right away, but can be downright mean to the other employees.”

To summarize; a lady roboteer in this game is either secretly (because she’s shy) crushing for a dude, or she is eye-candy who will probably rip your bits off. And the two girls in the team of six get to make up a disproportionate two thirds of a love triangle.

Because, you know, I can’t imagine that reinforcing any stereotypes or anything.

As for the robot characters? One Hiveling I discussed this with stated: ”None of the boy robots are cute and sassy.”

I can see other problematic things in the character descriptions too, the above is just the start.

What are your thoughts and observations about the (people and processor-based) characters?

11 thoughts on “Quick hit: Puzzlebots

  1. JB

    Wow, you’re angry aren’t you? I guess if a woman game writer/designer/creator can’t make you happy, no one can, eh?

    1. Melissa Post author

      Angry? No. Disappointed? Yes.

      I’m not sure why you think that women are immune to carelessly reinforcing stereotypes. I mean, just look at mainstream media.

  2. Tim

    Did you forget about the third girl, the entrepreneurial one who created the game?

    1. Melissa Post author

      The gender of the creator doesn’t matter in the least. The messages the game puts out remain the same.

    2. M

      Both of the female human characters in the game are adults. Erin Robinson is in her mid-twenties, also an adult. There are no “girls” in the game, and there were no “girls” involved in the making of the game, either.

  3. Restructure!

    Yuriko to Zander is like Willow to Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Astrid to Zander is like Faith to Xander from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

    Which just means that these are common female archetypes.

  4. Restructure!

    Yuriko is smart, industrious, and almost pathologically shy, just like Willow Rosenberg, but apparently, this has something to do with her being Japanese and/or the Japanese school system. :(

    1. Melissa Post author

      And her bot has a language barrier (of course!) and instead communicates with “clicks and whistles”.

      I just don’t have the words…

  5. Brenda

    It is disappointing indeed, that the girl robots are either passive shy things, or sexy. How much do they influence the story? With a character sheet like that, I’d expect them to just be along for the ride.

    Shy passive females is a gender stereotype, and teaches girls to be quiet, let the boys talk first, don’t make a fuss, don’t let people know you’re smart.

    Female characters that exist only for their sex appeal, or as the love interest is another problem with many (most?) fiction created today.

    I do wonder if it passes the Bechdel Test. Do the female characters ever have a conversation, and is that conversation about something other than a male?

  6. Brenda

    Also noticed that roughly half of the description for each woman is about how much they’re in love with the same man (the love triangle) — every woman is a love interest, re-enforcing them as the “sex gender”. I wish at least one could exist solely as a characters on an adventure, instead of half of their attributes being actually about a man.

    If we crudely swapped the genders of every character, then it would be all the men crushing on one woman. Not sure if it’s better, but it’s an interesting exercise.

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