PikaBot (pikabot) wrote,
PikaBot
pikabot

I don't generally like to post about RPs that I'm not a part of, particularly ones that I have Issues with; This reluctance is one part concern over making inaccurate accusation, and another part a sense that by giving them attention, I'm doing more good than harm for them.

In this case, though, the issues are so clear-cut and horrifying that I just say 'to hell with it'. And so, I present for your consideration: My take on theriversea. Also known as Genderfail R Us


theriversea is a "gender-swap" game based on "Amazon myth". Note the quotation marks around those terms. They are there for a reason. In fact, this game is neither of those, despite how it advertises itself.

No genders are being swapped; only biological sex (As explicitly stated here by one of their mods). I realize that 'gender-swap' is the fandom-standard term for whenever men or women develop new and exciting body parts, but when it's pointed out to you (see the previous link) you should probably have a better response than 'lol, we know that' and 'stop being so uptight'.

It also bears virtually no resemblance to any real Amazon myths, beyond the existence of Hippolyta, Amazons, Spartants, and (as beautifully described here) a lasertag war between them. I don't claim to be more than a neophyte of classical/Greek mythology, but even I can see that even Disney's Hercules was more on-base than this.

Anyways, here's all you need to know about the game, as taken from their profile page and ads:

Led by Queen Hippolyta, our warriors have prospered for centuries in a matriarchal society tucked between valleys and lush jungles.

However, with great power comes great adversaries.

The Spartan people seek universal domination and power under complete military and male-dominated rule. Each second, more land is being infested by the Spartan armies. They seek to control our lands, enslave our people, and use our superior race as dirt and rags. Their war machine is roaring. Furnaces are burning bright and hot. The blacksmiths are pounding out weaponry. Their teeth are bared and their shields raised as they march through space.

We need recruits.

With speed and skill, the great minds and scientists of the Amazons set to work on expanding our legions. The scientests worked tirelessly to create a device which would pull women from other worlds, to help in their mission--a portal between worlds is constructed using ancient technology only known to the higher circles of our society.

Somehow, intelligence leaked out to the Spartan leaders, and they attacked.

The device was damaged; the scientests, killed. The remaining Amazon forces have no choice, but to use the device as it is.

With the genetic identifiers no longer working, the portal no longer has the ability to pick out only women; now it takes everyone, and changes them. Genetic identitification has become genetic modification.

The men become women: Amazons.

The women become men: slaves.

Only those willing to serve out their term are allowed to live, but the Amazons will need more than just their word...

This is your purpose, warrior. Throw down your fears and weaknesses. Embrace the goddesses Athena of Wisdom, Aphrodite of Beauty, Hera of Motherhood, Demeter of Harvest--join our cause or perish under the brutal Spartan hand. You have been chosen and taken here for purposes beyond your comprehension. Take this shield and spear. Join your sisters on the battlefield and you may find a place amongst the constellations as one of the greatest Amazons in history.


I hope that that's all you need to know, anyways, because that ad text is virtually all the game information there is. There are no pages elaborating on the setting, or the society, or anything. There's an FAQ page, but there's hardly anything there and most of it is devoted to game mechanics, not world information.

Way to leave your players hanging in the great unknown! Even the_love_hotel has more information about the setting that the characters find themselves in than that! An overview of the game's concept is all well and fine, especially as ad text, but you need to get down to the nitty-gritty of locations, people, societies, etc or else your players are going to be lost with no idea of the world in which they play...or, worse still, with conflicting ideas.

In a single-fandom game or a game set within a certain fandom you can get away with it because presumably your players will already be familiar with the setting, but in a pan-fandom game with a new universe that resembles nothing before seen? No sir, that is insufficient.

On the other hand, perhaps the less known about this game, the better.

Let's reexamine that ad text. If you're like me, you probably got skeeved out, immediately and hard, but you may be having trouble defining exactly why. Not because it's hard to identify, but because it's so horrifying that it's hard to know where to start.

So, there's Amazons vs Spartans, and through incredibly contrived circumstances the Amazons keep pulling people from other universes to join their society, and that process is flipping people's physical sex. Let's revisit the most significant lines:

The men become women: Amazons.

The women become men: slaves.


There you have the concept in two sentences. Two creepy sentences.

If you're still having trouble seeing the problem with this, let's remove the sex-swap element and revisit those sentences.

The men become warriors.

The women become slaves.


Whoa, Nelly! I think everyone can see what a misogynistic mess that is. The game is about oppressing women, writ large, and disguised weakly by swapping some chromosomes around. And the so-called 'genderswap' changes nothing; these are still male characters enslaving female characters. This would be creepy enough in an AU setting, where the characters would, presumably, have actually been gender-swapped, because we all still know that these are originally male and female characters being thrust into this exercise in misogyny. But remember that the mods of the game specifically stated that no mental genders were affected by the change! So we have literally male characters enslaving literally female characters, with biology being the only difference.

Things get even worse if you go to the FAQ page:

What's up with the class system, you ask? Well, the Amazons aren't bringing people over for nothing! They've got their own civilians to feed. Males will be treated as servants-- with the occasional visit to the sperm bank.

Great, so part-and-parcel of the female enslavement is that they're still being used as baby factories. Chalk up another misogyny point, I guess.

I suppose something like this could be used as a platform for real discussion, but that's not going to happen here because it's very obvious that the mods just Do Not Get It:

The whole point is that it's misogynistic. People have to deal with it. Women are facing the same issues they would face in society (to a greater degree). Men are (hopefully) going to notice it, and think about it.

If it was a game with a bunch of men keeping women as slaves, flat out, I would totally agree with you. As it is, we're trying to create some degree of thought.


Sorry, pal, but that's exactly what it is! Just because the men are running around with tits and vaginas doesn't mean that they aren't men, and just because the women have dicks doesn't mean that they aren't women. You have men enslaving men. What is the difference, besides the arbitrary markers of physical sex?

If you can't understand why nothing is actually changing beyond physical appearance, let's put gender aside for the moment and look at an analogous situation: Star-bellied Sneetches. For those of you not blessed with Doctor Suess as a child: The creatures known as 'Sneetches' are divided into two groups: those with Stars on their bellies, and those without. Those with stars are a privileged class. They have parties and games and those without stars on their bellies are not permitted to join, and must sit apart from them on the cold, dark beaches.

Then an entrepreneur named Sylvester McMonkey McBean rolls into town, with a machine that will put stars onto the bellies of star-less Sneetches (for a fee, of course). The star-less Sneetches queue up for the procedure, and soon enough all the Sneetches have stars on their bellies. This, of course,makes the original star-bellied Sneetches unhappy, since they can no longer tell which Sneetches are part of their privileged class. So Sylvester McMonkey McBean rolls over with a different machine, one that removes stars from the bellies of Sneetches (for a fee). The original star-bellied Sneetches all pony up the cash and submit to the procedure, setting themselves apart from the formerly-starless Sneetches.

The population of Sneetches have now totally switched their class markers. However, their group identity has remained the same. The Starless Sneetches are now the ones oppressing the Star-bellied Sneetches, but aside from that arbitrary physical marker, nothing has changed.

Take those last three paragraphs and sub "penis" in for "star", and I think you'll see what I'm getting at. The men are still the privileged class, with the women even more oppressed than before. All that's changed is the arbitrary physical markers.

Anon summed it up far better than I could here:

The theme of this game pisses me off. It pretends to be ~*~edgy~*~ about its gender issues, but it's just more female subjugation. The only difference is that the males suddenly grow tits and the female characters now have a cock.

Spoilers: you aren't saying anything new. It's misogynistic trash with a fetishistic bow slapped on at the last minute.


Some other issues: the mod squad's behavior in the anon meme was not classy. You can read it in full here. Using it as an advertising medium, especially when logged in, rubs me the wrong way to begin with, but when people started calling them out on their shit it just degraded badly. bwhahahabeck in particular behaved like a cock. Read up on that here

Also within the anon meme, I found something that sheds a skeevy sort of light on the whole thing:

Frankly, because genderswap was the first idea we had. Both mods wanted to do a genderswap game, everything else came after that.

So...they decided to do a "genderswap" game, and then decided to make it about enslavement and baby-factorying of the female characters? It isn't just an unfortunate result of them slapping the "genderswap" onto a pre-existing concept and then just not thinking it through? Creepy.

And finally, although this is a minor issue that pales in comparison to the massive genderfail above, this little tidbit from the FAQ is rather revealing about how well the mods and creator understand fiction:

Second: villains cannot apply as spies. Spies would be trusted by their country of origin: villains don't generally gain trust.

Oh, really? Because I guess that means all of these villains don't exist:

Cersei Lannister (A Song of Ice And Fire)
Kurei (Flame of Recca)
Sousuke Aizen (Bleach)
Orochimaru (Naruto)
Captain Kuro (One Piece)
Laxus (Fairy Tail)
Gerard (Fairy Tail)
Urtear (Fairy Tail)
Morden (Babylon 5)
Envy (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Wrath (Fullmetal Alchemist)
Medusa Gorgon(Soul Eater)
The Red Skull (Marvel Comics)
Enrico Pucci (Jojo's Bizarre Adventure)


Etc, etc, etc. These are all characters who are charismatic enough to inspire trust, or manipulative enough to be able to fake it. Not everybody may trust them, but they can wiggle their way into positions of power and authority, or into the confidence of important people, despite being incredibly villainous. This is, in fact, a hallmark of what makes them villainous. And the list goes on, and on, and on, and on.

I'm pleased to see that the only apped character in the game currently is played by one of the mods. I'm less pleased to see that there are a few reserves being put it. I don't think this game deserves any kind of support, and I frankly don't want to give it any attention either, but I'm concerned about people signing on for the "genderswap" without thinking too hard about the game's concept.

(That sentence need not apply to people who want to app actually canonically transgendered characters there. If the game must get off the ground, I'm afraid I must insist on somebody apping Wanda from The Sandman there)

Final note: can anybody explain to me how the hell 'the river sea' makes sense as a name? Is there a reference I'm missing?
Tags: genderfail like whoa, meta, theriversea, using doctor suess for analogy purposes
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