I’m back in Sweden after a few days of traveling in Norway. Since I’m too lazy to write about it, have a photo instead! This is from the top of mount Ulriken, 500 meters above sea level, near the city of Bergen. Morning hike.
Today was my birthday! I had a wonderful time at the Danish aqua world called “Den Blå Planet” (the blue planet). I saw sharks, giant sting-rays, coral reef, seals, birds, eel and so much other cool stuff. There really is nothing like the ocean! I become like a small kid, just running around, looking at all the stuff, full of happiness and joy! Thanks all who made this day so special! < 3
Here’s the latest batch of images I’ve made! I met a girl this Midsummer’s Eve, who likes to draw the old school way! It was wonderful to have all these discussions with her about old painting Masters, techniques when rendering, human anatomy and motivation. It was so awesome to meet another nerd! I mostly spend my time drawing alone, only chatting with other artists on Skype. Applied for some art courses this week lol.
I was hoping to have something cool to show you guys, but after two days of never ending headaches (I blame my new pollen allergy and its medicines), I made some really ugly attempts at painting skin…Humans, and especially their skin is super difficult to paint for me. I’m not sure what I’m doing wrong, but I just can’t seem to pick the right colors, or to blend them into each other in a good looking way…
Speaking of stuff that feels a bit odd. It’s been more than a month since I moved from Stockholm to Malmö, and with that more than a month since I quit my job at Paradox. I don’t really feel like I’m having a vacation, since I should look for jobs, and I paint a lot. And on the other hand the painting and cleaning at home doesn’t really feel like having a job. I think my mind is stuck somewhere in between. I feel very restless, and when I go to bed I feel like the day just went by in the blink of an eye. I do a lot of things during the day, like cleaning and taking walks, and painting and seeing friends, but I just feel a bit weird. When I’m at the beach I can’t enjoy and rest, because a small voice in my head blames me for “wasting time”, and when I’m home, in front of the computer, the same voice now blames me for “sitting in front of the computer when it’s sunny outside”. I feel really stressed and I don’t know what to do about it : / Anyone else out there who’s experienced something like this? Mind to share strategies on how to make it work?
This post is on no way mean to offend anyone I know, it’s simply some things about our society I’ve been thinking of lately. I know people are gonna disagree with me or tell me their experiences are nothing like mine. Most of the biology discussed are theories, but very interesting theories nonetheless! Alright, apologizing done? Let’s go!
Playing With Monsters
When I grew up I played with plastic raptors and sharks, pretending they were eating my sister’s Barbie dolls. I loved to draw monsters, to collect frogs from the swamp in the nearby forest. I got an Action Man doll and fake tattoos for Christmas, and my mother who is a nature loving doctor encouraged me to collect parts of dead animals, to clean the bones and try to find out what wild animals they once belonged to. I collected shells on every trip to Norway and Egypt as a kid (I know you can’t take shells with you from Egypt anymore, the customs are very clear on that point today…) , decorating my own fish tank with them. My dad got me a basket ball and I practiced throwing baseball in the park. I can’t say I was that girly when growing up. Up until age 13 I was both faster and stronger than most of the boys in my class, which was a bit sad when we played tag. I got to be on the guy’s team and help them chase the girls, haha!
When I started this blog I made a promise to myself. This blog was not going to be mainly about feminism or stories about what’s its’ like to be a woman in a male dominated game dev industry. I know I’ve written some posts about that subject, but out of all my +170 posts only a handful of them discuss stuff like that. However, I think a lot about human rights and equality. And I’m hanging out in an industry where only about 10% of the employed people are women. Most of my friends are male, but I’m lucky enough to have a bunch of girlfriends who I hang out with every now and then, to balance it out < 3 I feel like I get the best from two worlds sometimes! At Paradox I think there were something like 12-15% women, at Junebud we were 40% women at one point.
Why Do Women Have Sex?
Last month I’ve been reading a very interesting book named “Why Do Women Have Sex”. The name might be a bit cheesy (yes really), but it’s actually a scientific study about what why women have/don’t have sex, put together by the clinical psychologist Cindy M. Meston and evolutionary psychologist David M. Buss. The book features a lot of data, and the researches made deep interviews with over 1000 women from all around the world. It’s very refreshing to read something about human sexual behavior that’s not mainly focused on the male perspective, and for me it introduced a new layer of biologic and evolutionary thinking about why humans behave like we do. About feminism, society and the way we picture art. In Sweden (and other Nordic countries) people discuss equality like never before. Sometimes it’s on a broad level like why there are less female CEOs than male ones, and sometimes it’s down to details like who should be at home with the baby, is it the mother or the father.
Feminism In The Video Game Industry
The topic is very broad, and unfortunately some individuals (many of them hiding away behind the anonymity of the Internet) feel seriously threatened by the fact that women gain a more equal status. A lot of women standing in the limelight are threaded with rape, sexual abuse or beating, just for being a woman and having a job like reading the night’s news on TV, writing books or working as politician. However, if I look at the game dev industry a lot of nice things has happened over the past two years. Improvements. Things that make this awesome industry even more awesome and diverse!
- Some video games have dramatically different costumes if the avatar is a woman or a man. I find this picture to be tragic, who would dress like this girl to fight dragons? Photo from the tumblr “Repair Her Armor” who is doing an awesome job questioning traditional art direction in games.
There was the #1ReasonWhy twitter movement, the most read Gamasutra article of 2012 was about sexism in video games (and why it’s a problem), developers are GDC13 discussed sexism etc. Gears of Wars developer Cliffy writes Tumblr posts about equality and calls for a change. To me feminism is about making sure that women and girls reach the same level or opportunities as men and boys. Women and men should be equal. Contrary to what some people seem to believe it’s no longer feminism if women are made better than men, threatening men or in any way trying to bring down or lesser the value of men on the behalf of women. If there’s an imbalance it literally can’t be labeled feminism anymore, since the definition for feminism is to make sure men and women are equal. Equal, not better. Also, apparently some people think feminazis are people who hate men, wants to ruin everything, call men “animals” and never ever user makeup (all not true by the way). Like everything in life the are some loud nutcases who present crazy ideas, but most feminist does not want to chop the balls of men or dress all boys in pink dresses. I promise.
So since the human species is quite intelligent (or at least have the capacity to be if we choose to erhm), we tend to do a lot of high level thinking or abstract analyzing. But we are still animals, and like all other living creatures we strive to survive long enough to pass on our genes by mating That’s easy to forget sometimes. And since we have such amazing brains, we are able to focus on things like learning cool tricks with a skateboard, craft games like World of Warcraft, study history, dive to the bottom of the ocean or travel in space. We are animals indeed, but we can be so much more if we want to. We can even engineer our own evolution if we want to (with birth control and medicine), and I think that’s just so fucking cool and exciting!
As I see it, after reading “Why Do Women Have Sex”, there’s a “clash” between the primal urges of the human species (to mate with the best possible individual and pass on genes) and our sophisticated brain. Sometimes we might not be aware of why we behave like we do, and sometimes really odd results comes out of it. Things that hurt other people, that might be labeled like cultural rites or doing something without even considering why, when the reason deep down is rooted in biology; who will mate with who.
- “I like your DNA! It will make our babies healthy and good looking, so other humans will want to sleep with them when they hit puberty”. This guy displays many of the features considered to be attractive to women; v-shaped body, masculine looks and a pose that signals high self-esteem. Many perfume commercials appeal straight to our sexual desires (go ahead and google!).
Studies have shown (all of these studies I’m referring to from now on are listed in the book WDWHS), that women all around the globe find men attractive that display a V-shaped body, that are tall, that makes them laugh that have high social standing and money or other resources. A symmetrical body and face is something the human female loves, since it’s a sign the male might have good DNA, or is able to heal physical injuries fast enough to not leave big scars. A human female is looking for a mate that scores high on two separate (but closely related) scales: a male that displays good DNA and a male that displays good “secondary resources” for the woman and her future child. The secondary resources are things like a strong body who can protect her from danger and other aggressive males, high social status that grants her acceptances into the flock, other resources like money or meat that will help her and the child survive. It’s quite dangerous for a human female to mate, to get pregnant and give birth to a child. It’s 9 months of pregnancy and then several years of taking care of and raising a resource heavy offspring. For a human male, mating with several females might be a good idea however, he is spreading his genes and making sure at least some of his offspring survive by not placing all of the eggs in the same basket, so to speak. If things get really bad it’s also easier (but of course still very hard) to walk away from the baby (his body have not invested the same amount of resources in the offspring as the female body). This might sound very cynical, but now I’m talking about cave men and humans as animals. Our brains are still very much in the caves, it takes a long time for evolution to adopt.
However, humans are one of the rare species to form life long relationships with their mates (or at least staying with the same partner for quite some time). Humans are social creatures and have developed a lot of strategies to make sure both the needs of male and female reproduction are looked after. One of these are the mysterious female ovulation. In most other species, it’s easy to tell when the female is ovulating, but despite several trials human males can’t really tell when a female is ovulating (the only clue seems to be that ovulation women tend to dress in a way so they show a bit more skin than usual). Why is this? Why hide it?
The answer might be that the female needs a male who can stay by her side for a long time, a skilled partner to help her raise a child. In order to make sure the male really is the able to make the female pregnant, he needs to stay around for quite some time and mate with her, to be sure he really is the father. One single intercourse during random 30 days only l gives the woman a 5% chance of getting pregnant. And since a lot of brain chemicals are released when mating and hanging out, we tend to like people we frequently exposed exposed to + some chemicals that are produced in the brain during and after sex makes humans attach to their partner. Some of these chemicals are the same as mothers experience when taking care of their children. So, human females take a big risk when mating, and they need to make sure they get the best genes possible (to produce a healthy child), and they also need to make sure the male stays around and helps her raise the kid, and in order to do that he needs to have resources like meat or the ability to help protect the woman and the child with his healthy, strong body..
Studies have even shown that if you let women smell the used t-shirts of a group of men, they will prefer the smell of the men that display the best possible DNA to mix with the DNA of that specific woman. This to give the baby the best possible immune system and lover the risk of inbreeding (hint guys: don’t use too much perfume!). So women can actually smell good DNA! Also, women tend to prefer the t-shirts that were worn by men with symmetric features/bodies. The classical masculine appearance (like male action heroes or soldiers in FPSs games), are attractive to women since they indicate a large production of testosterone. A man’s look is very much depending on genes and on how much testosterone his body is able to produce when he hits puberty. Testosterone is however very “costly” for the body to produce, because it affects the overall immune system in a bad way. So a male with square jaw, deep eye-sockets, V-shaped body and deep voice is a sign of that this individual could “afford” to produce high levels of testosterone during his puberty, which indicates nice DNA and potent immune system!
Men are more likely than women to fall in love at first sight, since they seem to be more turned on by visual stimuli. One of the things that are considered attractive almost all around the globe, are women with big eyes, clear skin, full lips and good hip-to-waist-ratio. All of these are taken as signs that she healthy and have a good DNA to pass on. A nice hip-to-waist ration could indicate her hipbone is not to narrow to give birth to a child. Of course I’m not saying that personality is not counting, but it seems like women need to evaluate a lot more factors than men before mating, since they are taking a bigger risk, while men might look more for physical clues to weather the woman have a good immune system/DNA.
These might be explanations to why it’s usually considered bad for a girl to sleep around, because she might not be picky about who will be the children to the precious offspring (which, if you are living among cave men is a really, really bad thing and for the group that takes care of you and provides you with food). And this might explain why our society tend to make women sex objects or give high social status to a man that’s had a lot of women. Clues to this might lay in our biology. This could maybe also help to explain the obsession with female virginity in many cultures. Since the female womb is a scare resource and she is only fertile for a short period of time (and you can’t even tell when!), it would be a disaster if someone else than her partner (to come) is the father to the child.
The book “The Game” by Neil Staruss was a huge hit when it was published in 2005. The book is basically a manual (and a true story) for how to become an expert on how to pick up women and get their number (this was before Facebook, so you actually needed people’s phone numbers…). It’s about social engineering, manipulating and taping into the brains of women to get them to feel special or attracted to you. The book uses a lot of the biological factors I listed above (and it’s a pretty entertaining book as well). A lot of the “pro tips” in this book on how to become a womanizer, are tricks that appeal to what women find to be indicators of good DNA or secondary resources. Among Strauss’s advice you find: get in shape, behave like you have a high self-esteem, never let her pay for food or drinks, be a bit dominating sometimes by giving her negative critique on her dress or clothes. The thing is, it actually works most of the time! Unfortunately one might add, the book fails on how to learn men to make the relationships last, and this is something the author himself struggles with, and he soon get’s obsessed with always getting the number of the most beautiful girl in every room he enters. Go read it, it’s very interesting!
What some people might not think about is that women fight with each other to get the chance to mate with the best male around. They do so in many different ways, but one way, according to the WDWHS book is to trash talk each other to lower the “market” value of another female. One way to trash talk another woman is to spread rumors of her sleeping around, or being ugly (a behavior too common among teenagers in school). This is (sadly) quite logic with the regards to how highly women are judged on their looks and ability to pick (and maintain) a good male for mating.
We Are More Than Our Biology!
This obsession about women’s beauty is very strong in our society. Women tend to be judged based on their looks, not their achievements. For men it’s often the other way around. As I have discussed earlier in this post there might be a biological reason behind this. I’ve noticed how a girl who changes her profile photo on Facebook tend to get a lot of compliments, while the same behavior is almost non-existent among my male friends. Often when I hang out with my friends the girls give each other compliments for a nice dress, a cute haircut or something else related to their looks. I personally experience more gossip when I’m hanging out with women, and it’s a lot more talk about celebrities looks (who’s wearing too much makeup, who got too skinny, who had the best dress at the Oscars etc). Girls seem to bond when talking about stuff, while my male friends usually bond over doing stuff (like playing games, sports or drinking beers).
I really think we as humans are in a unique position. We are more than our biology. We have access to contraceptives, we can analyze our behavior, we are not slaves to our instinct and impulses like other animals. Evolution is slow, and it’s going to take time before it catches up with our reality. We can be aware of why me might tend to act in a certain way, but we don’t need to follow those urges or instincts.
I love to talk about the future, to make plans, to hang out with awesome, positive people who inspire me to achieve cool stuff, no matter if they identify themselves as males or females!
I’ve spent this weekend pretty much drawing and painting, visiting some friends and watching tutorials. It feels like my brain wants to master drawing and painting so much. The more I feed it in terms of tutorials, observations and practice, the more it wants! This is an awesome feeling! Each night when I go to bed, I lay awake for a while trying to think about what I will learn tomorrow, or how I might improve my painting in some way. It’s almost like I don’t have much say in this process, it’s like my brain has decided this is what it wants to focus all it’s energy on right now. Just go with the flow I guess!
However, I’ve been thinking about something lately. It started with me reading about a guy who visited a Mensa-meeting to hold a lecture. This guy was not a member of Mensa, but invited to speak about brains and his research. After the lecture he mingled with the audience, and to his great surprise all the people he spoke to were really humble and nice. He had expected snobs or people who only talked about how smart they were. Instead, everyone were talking about climate change, the economic crises, his research about the human brain or space science. No one talked about their job, about gossip or other more common topics often discussed at parties.
This made me think. I’m not even close at having a shot at becoming a member of the Swedish Mensa. In fact, I score below average on every IQ-test, and I’m not good at nature science (even if I enjoy reading about scientific findings a lot!). I just felt a bit jealous of the people at this meeting. How wonderful to talk about this kind of stuff. Things that really matter. I love to talk about genetics, about cognitive psychology, about color theory, game design, the meaning of life…Things that makes us question what we think we know, that lifts the focus of you and me, that says something about us in a bigger picture. That challenges us.
Now and then you have a really deep discussion with someone about these topics, and I’m lucky enough to have a bunch of smart friends to talk to about game design or the meaning of life. But now and then I end up sitting next to people at dinner parties, and all they are talking about are gossip, family, if you should buy/rent your own place and other things like that. I fade out and dream about other stuff, still trying to be polite. I completely understand you talk to strangers about stuff like this, it’s common and safe ground, but I just feel so alone sometimes. I wish I could join some fancy club, to talk to smart people about important stuff that feeds my brain.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making the case that I’m somehow a smart-ass, or that my preferred topics are more important than those of other individuals. It’s just that I feel alone sometimes. And a bit like a freak. I’m used to feeling different. I grew up playing with TMNT and Street Sharks while the other girls played with Barbie. I had problems learning to spell and write due to my dyslexia, I drew comics because I could not write the stories, in school. I was interested in dead animals and their anatomy, while the other kids in my class collected Spice Girl cards. I work with video games, and sometimes it’s hard to bond with other girls since I don’t really share an interest in make-up and celebrities. That’s just the way I am, and I’m happy about being me. This weekend I’be been listening to a lot of TED-talks, and it makes me feel less lonely in some strange way I guess.
Watch all my images made so far for my “Learning To Draw” project:
I realized it gets a bit messy with the long list of posts at the bottom of these “Learning To Draw” posts. So I got rid of that and just added the FB links instead. If you want to view all LTD posts I suggest you choose to display the “Learning To Draw” category on this blog.
Today I brought my new super fancy summer dress to my tailor. She is gonna make sure it fits even better. I love that dress so much ;__; It makes me feel (and look) like a star. Kidd you not. It’s probably the most fancy item I own right now. Gonna post some photos when it’s done next week!
The tailor was a sweet Russian woman who seemed to love her job with tremendous passion! . I really like how diverse this part of Malmö is where I live. I got all my meat and fish from Baghdad’s Groceries, the guy running my fav restaurant is from Greece and greets me by name, there’s a Thai massage down my street, I get my fruit from the daily market where a lot of Arabs give away free samples of water melon every time you go there, and I buy my noodles from the Chinese family around the corner.
Watch all my images made so far for my “Learning To Draw” project:
Do you know about the “fake nerd girl” character? Well, here’s another made up cliche from the world of tech/video games, let me present to you: “the marketing chick”.
“She’s not in tech, she’s around it. She doesn’t understand engineering. She’s not a programmer. She probably got her job because she’s pretty. Or how did she get that job, she’s not even pretty. She probably got her job from sleeping with that guy. She probably does social media. She’s helping out with the conference.”
I feel like this hit pretty close to home. I’m not skilled in coding or making 3D props, and there are countless times I have heard “real” developers talk trash about “the women/girls” who only do stuff like “post stuff on FB or Twitter and don’t even know how to basic HTML LOL”.
During last NGC I had a long talk with another woman about this. How she is fed up with people always assuming she isn’t playing games, or people assuming she is even offering sexual services to developers, because she is helping out on game dev conferences world wide (this is a woman who started her own business at 17!). One time when she was the personal assistant to a well know developer during a big conference, a group of business men started making fun of how she probably provided this industry veteran with blowjobs and happy endings. The laughter in the group stopped pretty quickly when one of the men said “hey, that’s my daughter, be nice :(“. That’s the case. It’s ALWAYS going to me someones daughter. Or sister. Or mother. And it’s always fucked up to behave like they did.
I have tried so hard, so many times to prove “I’m not just the marketing chick”. And all that time she did not even exist! She is just made up by developers who don’t know how this business works, or people who think the only skill that’s desirable in this industry coding or crafting 3D (no, not even game designers are “real” game developers according some). People who think that there’s a almighty hierarchy on the studios, and at the very bottom of that, crawling in the dirt: the marketing chick.
I think that to make a really awesome game you need a lot of different people. You need code ninjas, talented artists, driven business people, smart marketing, good community management, artsy sound engineers, nice QA, hard working scripters etc etc. You need respect.
Click here to read the full article about “Misogyny and the Marketing Chick” by Shanley.
So far I’ve been using almost one single brush for all my digital paintings. I’ve done this to make sure I learn how to use the the basic stuff before I move on to more fancy tools. I don’t want to be dependent on certain brushes or digital magic to create my paintings, I want to understand how to craft a good looking image without a computer as well. That’s why I continue to draw manually in my old classy sketch book, not going full out digital. Loomis said an artist develop his/hers skills faster if they continue to practice using a lot of different mediums, and so far it’s actually working for me! I wish to do some acrylic painting soon again!
Last night I spent downloading some brushes, sorting out the good ones creating a nice collection featuring square brushes, noisy brushes and soft, wash-like brushes. My computer can’t really handle complex brush settings in PS, so all super fancy stuff that makes my computer lag needs to go right away. I’m down to something like 15 brushes now, and I’m sure at least half of them will prove unnecessary given some time. Some of my really talented painting friends told me they only use 7-3 brushes most of the time. (If you want to try out some of the brushes I’m using, click here). When I first tried painting in Photoshop in the spring of 2008 I believed it were the brushes who made your art good or not, haha! Speaking of art, I visited Malmö’s museum today, saw my first real Zorn painting. It was amazing to get a chance to study his art up close!
I found this really nice Tumblr by Nadia, called “Draahwl”. I so like her style! The colors look so…wet and fluid, like you could mix them together just by touching, stick your fingers in them. I’m aiming to adapt some of that into the way I paint. Check out her design for this hunter. Dat character design…!
Watch all my images made so far for my “Learning To Draw” project:
Previous posts about my “Learning To Draw” project on this awesome blog:
I got some more images for you! I feel really inspired right now, painting and drawing as much as I can!
Also, some photos from the concerts at Dans Dakar last week! On the way back I paid some visits to my friends in the city of Skövde. The dudes and dudettes at Coffee Stain Studio has got one hell of a good looking office. They were kind enough to show it to me ^^
That’s it, back to painting and greeting my friend from Germany with cake. She is bound to arrive any time now.
Watch all my images made so far for the “Learning To Draw” project:
Previous posts about my “Learning To Draw” project on this awesome blog: