So, THIS argument has popped up again.... and again..... and again: Women are overly sexualised in games, Girl gamers are routinely abused online, The gaming industry is full of sexist pigs etc.
I'm tired of trying to post single comments in the thousands of articles relating to this, so I thought I'd put all my own thoughts in to one handy Blog for all, or nobody, to read.
Depiction & Over Sexualisation Of Women In Video Games
Yes, there is some mild sexualisation in games. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't any. The obvious ones like Dead Or Alive and Tomb Raider spring to mind first.
First off the "bouncy boobies" in DoA are just part of a game that is so ridiculously over-the-top, it's almost tongue-in-cheek, more than anything else. The women are scantily clad, the men are bulging brutes. It's all a bit silly, rather than titillating. Similar to Lollipop Chainsaw that was released earlier this year.
With Tomb Raider, yes, Lara Croft is nice to look at, with her athletic body, heaving bosom, THAT ass and posh English accent. But she's also, intelligent, strong, independent and kills a lot of stereotypical, dumb, male henchman. Facts that are largely overlooked, or smeared over just because she happens to be attractive and has big breasts. Not to mention that the main reason the Tomb Raider games (especially the earlier ones) have been so succesful is actually down to their outstanding 3d level design, clever puzzles & platforming. The novelty of Lara being hot wears off after about 2 minutes of playing the game. Yes, I had a little giggle the first time I saw the big boobies, but I didn't play the whole game with one hand. Which brings me to my main point with regards to the sexualisation of women in games.
From what I've read in the majority of Blogs, Forums, Comments etc protesting against the depiction of women in games, there are a few things that seem consistent in all of them:
Firstly: The people doing the complaining seem to think that all male gamers are horny, knuckle-dragging, slobbering, Neanderthals. I actually find THIS offensive. I have NEVER purchased a game thinking "There might be a hot chick in this". I buy games I think might be interesting & enjoyable for me to play, not because I want to drool all over my control pad at scantily-clad women. I think even the most seasoned pervert would struggle to be titillated by a video game, or would go out and buy a game just for that reason. Just because I'm a man, doesn't mean I constantly have naked ladies on the brain. I read the interview with Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency and it's pretty clear that her and many others like her presume that all male gamers are like this. We're not. I play games for fun, that is all.
Secondly: From what I've read, the depiction of women in games doesn't really seem to be an issue from a sex point of view, it seems to be more about VANITY. Many seem to think that just because a female game character is attractive, she's somehow less intelligent and is therefore a sex-object. I completely disagree with this. In my view, it is just down to pure vanity and nothing else. The majority of video games characters are much like the majority of movie characters: Everyone is fit and pretty. You don't see people writing angry Blogs about good looking men, or women, in movies creating overly sexualised characters, so why is it such a big deal when it comes to video games ? I don't truly have an answer to that one. I just think their is a small minority looking to create a major fuss over nothing. I don't think women are depicted any worse in games than they are on TV, or movies. Sure there are a few games that could be considered titillating, but it's the same as any other media, whether it be TV, Movies, Magazines etc. It's a very small percentage.
Lastly: There's a lot of rambling in these articles about equality and women in games being "The Damsel In Distress". Again, I completely disagree with this. Maybe 20 years ago when Mario had to rescue Daisy and Link had to rescue Zelda. We've come a LONG way since then. There are many strong female characters in games these days: Sarah Kerrigan, Alyx Vance, Samus Aran, Lara Croft, Cortana and yes even the bouncy babes from DoA: They may be sexy, but they fight and win against MEN. How much more equality to you want ???? Not to mention the fact that in most RPG's you can play as a female lead, most notably, in recent years, with FemShep in the Mass Effect Trilogy. Again, certain people are making a major fuss over nothing. It just goes back to the vanity argument: If a female game character is pretty, she must be stupid & helpless.
Girls Gamers & Online Abuse
I have quite a few girls on my Xbox Friends, who I play with fairly regularly and I've never once heard them get picked on just for being a girl. I have heard THEM taunt guys by saying: "Ha, you just got owned by a girl" and everyone laughs. From my own experiences online, I'd say it's one of the few mediums where people are judged on their ability rather than their gender. Also, I only really play with online friends, rather than going in to open games, because I can't be bothered with all the screaming & trash-talking. It doesn't bother me, it just gives me a headache. So, to any girl gamers who are apprehensive about playing online: Play a few games and you'll get friendly with people and eventually you'll play with friends most of the time. If you prefer to fly solo, you do so at your own risk. Just don't get upset at some name-calling. It happens to EVERYONE, not just girls. Remember, you can always block, or mute someone who just wont shut the hell up !
Sexism In The Industry
I obviously can't comment fully on the matter, as I don't work in the industry and am unaware of companies hiring poilicies. All I can say is, from what I see, there seems to be healthy amount of women working in the journalism side of the industry. Sure it's not 50/50, but that's down to video gaming being more of a male interest than a female. There's no denying that more men are in to games than women, especially the more hardcore element. I don't know the exact number, but I'd say it's about 80/20 in favour of men, who are in to gaming enough to pursue a career in the industry, whether it be in game journalism, or game development. As gaming is becoming a more mainstream hobby, I expect the number of women working in the industry will increase over time. However, I expect it will always be more of a male interest than a female one. Again, this is all just speculation on my part, as I have no idea when it comes to the hiring policies of game developers and game magazines etc.
I can see this debate raging on for a while yet, but that's all I have to say for now. Personally, I don't see what all the fuss is about concerning the depiction of women in games. It's just like everything else: You can't please everyone.
I just hope that this vocal minority don't get their way, otherwise political-correctness will get so out of hand, it'll be like playing Pong all over again: Instead of characters we'll have genderless blocks that don't speak and have no personality. I'm all for equality, but that's a step too far !
Feel free to post a comment below, whether you agree, or disagree. I may reply to some of them.
Keep it civil.