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Posted by Gamer_152 (14072 posts) -

This is a blog that I’ve been holding off on for a while because it’s on a topic that seems to incite a lot of... Well, let’s call it “heated discussion”. None the less, this is something I think deserves to be addressed and I believe we are capable of having a civil discussion about. Sexism in video games is something that’s been observed for a long time, but recently we seem to have seen the debate over it grow rather rapidly, with many of those speaking out against the way women are portrayed in games identifying themselves with the feminist movement. Sadly the debates over sexism in video games are regularly fraught with mistakes, misinterpretations and miscommunications from both sides. All too often it seems that those defending video games against accusations of sexism come away thinking that feminists are all anti-masculine, hyper-politically correct sexists, while those criticising games come away thinking that the gaming community are largely immature, irresponsible douchebags. In both cases each party also has the tendency to come off to the other as stereotypical, ignorant and overly-defensive.

Feminism

 Stereotypes suck.

As many people seem to be viewing the debate at least in part as “feminism vs. video games”, I feel the most important point to address before I say anything else is the definition of feminism. Many people seem to be under the impression that feminism is a movement concerned with aggressively fighting for women’s rights at any costs and that it holds an inherent hostility towards men. Most definitions of feminism actually state that it is simply a movement in favour of women’s rights and/or women’s equality. That’s quite a broad definition and indeed there do seem to be some very loud, delusional, misinformed and downright sexist individuals within it, but I think we can all agree that the gaming audience has more than its fair share of those too.

Neither gamers, nor feminists should be defined by their most extreme or outspoken members. I think we, as reasonable people, can agree though that the idea of women’s equality at its root is something we can all get behind. Of course I’m sure if more of us entered debates with an open mind and an air of calmness, and if the mass media stopped perpetuating tired stereotypes of both groups we’d also be far better off.

I believe the next most important point is that gamers and feminists are not two entirely separate groups. Some seem to see the criticism of sexism in video games as always or very often being some sort of external attack, when a significant amount of it is actually coming from people within the gaming audience. This kind of criticism can often be heard from women and men to whom the issues matter because they’re the very people consuming this entertainment to begin with. In fact, if you’re making a point about cutting down on sexism in video games then you’re basically adopting a feminist position on it. None the less I think too many vague and invalid points get made in these arguments, so let me start from the top.

Empty Criticism

 Just throwing words around doesn't really help us.

I find the criticism that a game is sexist alone to be a rather shallow one. “Sexism” is a word which encompasses a lot of different behaviours which affect different groups of people, in different ways, to different degrees. Hypothetically, when someone says a game is sexist that could mean anything from the game overtly and clearly telling people to oppress and abuse a sex, right down to female characters not being able to equip a certain item that males can. “Sexist” has become one of those words with an understandably strong negative stigma attached to it, but this seems to have lead to some people waving the word around expecting the same appalled reaction for everything from the greatest to the most minor differences between the ways the sexes are treated in games. While calling something “sexist” is a good descriptor of the kind of argument you’re levelling against it, it doesn’t tell us anything about whether that thing is legitimately worth worrying about, in what way it’s supposedly damaging, how damaging it is, or how we can begin to fix the problem if there is one. People also aren’t going to be won over by an argument unless you clearly and openly explain the exact problem you’re talking about.

Another rather reactionary word which seems to get thrown around a lot is objectification. While there seem to be people out there with a very different mindset, I don’t think objectification of individual characters is by default the big evil demon it’s set up to be. Plenty of characters in video games are objectified and it’s just not a problem. When we encounter an enemy in an FPS or an NPC in RPG we treat them as objects; they’re just targets, quest-givers, or means to get the items we need. We don’t think about them as human beings with thoughts, emotions, beliefs and views, and yet despite how packed games are with examples of people being treated more or less as objects, it seems it’s only when the sexualisation of female characters comes into play that we hear the term “objectification”. Again, objectification is something that can happen on different scales, to different degrees and to different people.

The blanket use of terms like “sexism” and “objectification” when it comes to video games also ignore that discriminating against real people and doing the same to fictional characters are two very different things. I find it hard to believe this is something that has to be contested, but it seems that some are even under the delusion that the portrayal of mistreatment or inequality of women in a video game is by default to be taken as a general statement about women, or how it is acceptable to treat women. I’ve seen people argue this about games like Grand Theft Auto IV, Batman: Arkham City and others, and I’m amazed it’s a point that some people have ever considered valid.

The Real Problem

 I don't think this alone is the problem.
Despite what some people might tell you, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the existence of certain video games or other entertainment in which a character or characters belonging to a specific group (be they a sex, race, or people of a certain sexual orientation) are mistreated, objectified, disempowered or fit a stereotype. The problem is that it isn’t a handful of female characters in video games it’s happening too, the problem is that it’s happening to the large majority of them.
 

There are some out there who seem to believe it is the upmost atrocity that characters like Ivy Valentine or Princess Peach exist and that there would be some sort of ultimate justice in a future where the entertainment industry is entirely devoid of these types of characters, but this is of course complete nonsense and in the case of sexualised female characters I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying their appearance or behaviour on a sexual level. Yes, it’s a simple and short-term thrill but many great things in life and games are.

What’s Wrong With It?

Even back before discussion about sexualised game characters was as big as it is now, I was hearing people giving the rather perplexing argument of “Why put sexualised girls in video games when you can see them elsewhere, like on the internet?”, but why combine any one enjoyable thing with any other enjoyable thing? It creates a more enjoyable end product. I get the feeling that the people making this argument actually have some sort of other gripe that they’re hiding behind this question.

I also hear people saying that it’s just plain weird to derive pleasure from what is basically a collection of pixels on a screen and if that’s your opinion then you’re perfectly entitled to it, but I would like to point out that “weird” is a relative thing. Even when you’re “looking at” someone in real-life what you’re actually seeing is the light emanated by any nearby light source bouncing off of them and the light not absorbed by them reaching your eye, triggering electrical processes in your brain. If you think about anything long enough it all seems a bit weird.

Duder, It’s Over

Anyway, that’s it for this week. As always I’d love to hear your feedback on anything here and thank you for reading.

-Gamer_152

Moderator
#1 Posted by Gamer_152 (14072 posts) -

This is a blog that I’ve been holding off on for a while because it’s on a topic that seems to incite a lot of... Well, let’s call it “heated discussion”. None the less, this is something I think deserves to be addressed and I believe we are capable of having a civil discussion about. Sexism in video games is something that’s been observed for a long time, but recently we seem to have seen the debate over it grow rather rapidly, with many of those speaking out against the way women are portrayed in games identifying themselves with the feminist movement. Sadly the debates over sexism in video games are regularly fraught with mistakes, misinterpretations and miscommunications from both sides. All too often it seems that those defending video games against accusations of sexism come away thinking that feminists are all anti-masculine, hyper-politically correct sexists, while those criticising games come away thinking that the gaming community are largely immature, irresponsible douchebags. In both cases each party also has the tendency to come off to the other as stereotypical, ignorant and overly-defensive.

Feminism

 Stereotypes suck.

As many people seem to be viewing the debate at least in part as “feminism vs. video games”, I feel the most important point to address before I say anything else is the definition of feminism. Many people seem to be under the impression that feminism is a movement concerned with aggressively fighting for women’s rights at any costs and that it holds an inherent hostility towards men. Most definitions of feminism actually state that it is simply a movement in favour of women’s rights and/or women’s equality. That’s quite a broad definition and indeed there do seem to be some very loud, delusional, misinformed and downright sexist individuals within it, but I think we can all agree that the gaming audience has more than its fair share of those too.

Neither gamers, nor feminists should be defined by their most extreme or outspoken members. I think we, as reasonable people, can agree though that the idea of women’s equality at its root is something we can all get behind. Of course I’m sure if more of us entered debates with an open mind and an air of calmness, and if the mass media stopped perpetuating tired stereotypes of both groups we’d also be far better off.

I believe the next most important point is that gamers and feminists are not two entirely separate groups. Some seem to see the criticism of sexism in video games as always or very often being some sort of external attack, when a significant amount of it is actually coming from people within the gaming audience. This kind of criticism can often be heard from women and men to whom the issues matter because they’re the very people consuming this entertainment to begin with. In fact, if you’re making a point about cutting down on sexism in video games then you’re basically adopting a feminist position on it. None the less I think too many vague and invalid points get made in these arguments, so let me start from the top.

Empty Criticism

 Just throwing words around doesn't really help us.

I find the criticism that a game is sexist alone to be a rather shallow one. “Sexism” is a word which encompasses a lot of different behaviours which affect different groups of people, in different ways, to different degrees. Hypothetically, when someone says a game is sexist that could mean anything from the game overtly and clearly telling people to oppress and abuse a sex, right down to female characters not being able to equip a certain item that males can. “Sexist” has become one of those words with an understandably strong negative stigma attached to it, but this seems to have lead to some people waving the word around expecting the same appalled reaction for everything from the greatest to the most minor differences between the ways the sexes are treated in games. While calling something “sexist” is a good descriptor of the kind of argument you’re levelling against it, it doesn’t tell us anything about whether that thing is legitimately worth worrying about, in what way it’s supposedly damaging, how damaging it is, or how we can begin to fix the problem if there is one. People also aren’t going to be won over by an argument unless you clearly and openly explain the exact problem you’re talking about.

Another rather reactionary word which seems to get thrown around a lot is objectification. While there seem to be people out there with a very different mindset, I don’t think objectification of individual characters is by default the big evil demon it’s set up to be. Plenty of characters in video games are objectified and it’s just not a problem. When we encounter an enemy in an FPS or an NPC in RPG we treat them as objects; they’re just targets, quest-givers, or means to get the items we need. We don’t think about them as human beings with thoughts, emotions, beliefs and views, and yet despite how packed games are with examples of people being treated more or less as objects, it seems it’s only when the sexualisation of female characters comes into play that we hear the term “objectification”. Again, objectification is something that can happen on different scales, to different degrees and to different people.

The blanket use of terms like “sexism” and “objectification” when it comes to video games also ignore that discriminating against real people and doing the same to fictional characters are two very different things. I find it hard to believe this is something that has to be contested, but it seems that some are even under the delusion that the portrayal of mistreatment or inequality of women in a video game is by default to be taken as a general statement about women, or how it is acceptable to treat women. I’ve seen people argue this about games like Grand Theft Auto IV, Batman: Arkham City and others, and I’m amazed it’s a point that some people have ever considered valid.

The Real Problem

 I don't think this alone is the problem.
Despite what some people might tell you, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the existence of certain video games or other entertainment in which a character or characters belonging to a specific group (be they a sex, race, or people of a certain sexual orientation) are mistreated, objectified, disempowered or fit a stereotype. The problem is that it isn’t a handful of female characters in video games it’s happening too, the problem is that it’s happening to the large majority of them.
 

There are some out there who seem to believe it is the upmost atrocity that characters like Ivy Valentine or Princess Peach exist and that there would be some sort of ultimate justice in a future where the entertainment industry is entirely devoid of these types of characters, but this is of course complete nonsense and in the case of sexualised female characters I don’t see anything wrong with enjoying their appearance or behaviour on a sexual level. Yes, it’s a simple and short-term thrill but many great things in life and games are.

What’s Wrong With It?

Even back before discussion about sexualised game characters was as big as it is now, I was hearing people giving the rather perplexing argument of “Why put sexualised girls in video games when you can see them elsewhere, like on the internet?”, but why combine any one enjoyable thing with any other enjoyable thing? It creates a more enjoyable end product. I get the feeling that the people making this argument actually have some sort of other gripe that they’re hiding behind this question.

I also hear people saying that it’s just plain weird to derive pleasure from what is basically a collection of pixels on a screen and if that’s your opinion then you’re perfectly entitled to it, but I would like to point out that “weird” is a relative thing. Even when you’re “looking at” someone in real-life what you’re actually seeing is the light emanated by any nearby light source bouncing off of them and the light not absorbed by them reaching your eye, triggering electrical processes in your brain. If you think about anything long enough it all seems a bit weird.

Duder, It’s Over

Anyway, that’s it for this week. As always I’d love to hear your feedback on anything here and thank you for reading.

-Gamer_152

Moderator
#2 Posted by Winternet (8014 posts) -

Why is this suddenly a hot topic? I've seen dozens of blog/article opinions about this. Even Jeff talked about this in his vlog, humf, I mean, Jar Time.

#3 Posted by McGhee (6094 posts) -

I see a disconnect in women complaining about the "objectification" of women in video games: large breasts, revealing armor, etc., and the idea of female empowerment and independence. Why is it OK for a woman to dress provocatively, but not OK for game designers to create a woman that looks that way? I think a lot of women hate having their own imperfections thrown in their faces, and a lot of them are just jealous. Does that make me a sexist scumbag for saying that? Some may think so. It is just what I have observed. A whole lot of women are like that. Deal with it.

I like all kinds of characters, but I, just like everyone else, enjoy seeing good looking people. Not just women. I like seeing muscled up badass dudes because I want to be a muscled up badass dude, and I liking seeing hot busty ladies because I want hot busty ladies.

There are plenty of well-rounded and interesting female characters out there that aren't just there for their looks. Some may then argue "but not as many as there are men!" Gaming is male oriented and it will always be the case. So deal with that, too. What do you want, gaming affirmative action? For every not-so-good looking guy there has to be another not-so-good looking woman in the game? Get fucking real.

#4 Posted by FlarePhoenix (420 posts) -

Because some people pointed out that certain things in the new Batman game come across as sexist. Oh, and it is the laziest way to stir up controversy and get traffic for your website/blog area/wall you scribble on etc...

#5 Edited by MattyFTM (14368 posts) -

The issue with sexualization of characters in video games isn't one confined to women. I mean, what percentage of male protagonists are muscley, hunky guys? I suspect it's a fairly high percentage. Obviously you can argue that the motives behind such characters are different. The aim might be to convey the idea that the character is strong and powerful, rather than merely attractive. But the reasons for having an attractive female character are probably deeper than simply wanting to have a character with nice boobs. I guess the point I'm making is pretty much the same one you are - it's not a simple topic. It's not as easy as just looking at something and saying that X is sexist and Y isn't. There are multiple angles to come from.

Moderator
#6 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10905 posts) -

I still think that defining feminism as wanting equal rights is sexist. The word has "femin" (as in feminine) right in it. It should have a better name.

Anyway, what was this blog about? Sexism? Eh. I dunno, doesn't really seem like a problem to me. I don't really see any instances of games that I think unfairly treat women.

Moderator Online
#7 Posted by Simplexity (1382 posts) -

All women in video games from now on should have a face that only a mother could love, it's the politically correct way of doing it.

#8 Posted by nomorehalfmeasuresdoctor (143 posts) -

People like looking at pretty things. This will never change. This is the simplest answer. Anything more and we will all take a trip down the rabbit hole.

#9 Posted by Gamer_152 (14072 posts) -
@Winternet: I think it may have been at least partially triggered by the blogger Feminist Hulk recently writing about how Batman: Arkham City was sexist. I started writing this before all that happened though.
 
@McGhee_the_Insomniac: I think there is a bit of a disconnect there, at least from some feminists. There is a certain type of person who proclaims that women should be independent and do what they want, while simultaneously telling women all the different appearances and behaviours that they can't assume. Like I said though, I don't think there's any problem with depicting sexualised women in games, but I do think the games industry has a problem in the fact that it's the norm for women to be sexualised and reliant on men in games. I like hot busty ladies but sometimes I want women in my games who are more than just that, there are some good female characters out there but games could be doing a hell out a lot better with male and female characters. As for gaming always being male-oriented I think that's a very bold prediction to make, that this entire entertainment medium is going to live and die purely catering to a male consumer base the whole time. Even if it is largely male-oriented I don't think that means that females have to be forever depicted as they are now. And no, at no point did I say that for every average-looking woman there should be an average-looking dude.
 
@FlarePhoenix: Actually, I'd been thinking about writing this for a very long time and began writing it before the Arkham City controversy. I assure you that my intention is not to stir up controversy here, I'm presenting what I believe to be a collection of reasonable opinions in a rather calm manner. What's more I honestly don't think I've been lazy with this, I spent a considerable amount of time preparing to write, writing and refining this blog. Am I not allowed to blog about topics which I know a fair number of people might want to comment on?
 
@MattyFTM: I agree, I certainly think men get objectified in games as power objects themselves and that there is a common stereotyping in games of them being the macho action hero. Really I think the thing that should be focused on is not whether things are sexist but whether the specific nature and scale of the sexism of things is damaging in any way. I think for both male and female characters the medium could do a lot better, but to be fair it is still rather young.
 
@MooseyMcMan: I don't think it's a good name but then I think a lot of things have names that aren't very good. I don't think the name is really sexist in any way that's that damaging or worth worrying about though. Do you really not see games very widely sexualising women or having them play second fiddle to men weirdly often though?
 
@Prodstep: If you think that's what I'm trying to imply with this blog you're way off.
 
@nomorehalfmeasures: Certainly, but I think there's a big gap between just giving people pretty things to look at and the way most video games depict women today.
Moderator
#10 Posted by FancySoapsMan (5816 posts) -

I must be playing the wrong games because I don't recall ever having encountered many sexist depictions of women.

#11 Posted by Winternet (8014 posts) -

Arkham City is sexist? Man, I can't wait for it to come to the PC.

#12 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -

@Gamer_152 said:

but why combine any one enjoyable thing with any other enjoyable thing? It creates a more enjoyable end product. I get the feeling that the people making this argument actually have some sort of other gripe that they’re hiding behind this question.

Like what? It's called critical thinking, when people think a while about it they find out there is nothing wrong with it, but those who just follow their feelings from their tradition and culture, well, those don't get that far.

#13 Posted by TheDudeOfGaming (6078 posts) -

...Tits are awesome. I really don't see a problem with that.

#14 Posted by MooseyMcMan (10905 posts) -

@Gamer_152: So you're saying that any instance where the female character is a side character it's sexist?

Also, I see plenty of women "widely sexualising" themselves in real life. More so than I do in the games that I play, anyway.

I dunno. I just don't see how games doing these things is any worse than when they happen in movies, TV shows, or real life. I don't think games are any more sexist that anything else in life.

Moderator Online
#15 Posted by benjaebe (2783 posts) -

The problem with female characters in games for me isn't just that they're overtly sexualized, it's that more often than not that's their only quality - they don't add anything to the story or character other than being the token hot girl with big breasts. It's their defining attribute.

I always go back to Bioshock Infinite for this argument now because there seemed to be a big problem over Elizabeth's attire and cleavage. People were saying "oh she's over sexualized" and "oh this is just another example of sexism in video games," but it's really not. Elizabeth is a well-realized and well-developed character who Levine and the rest of Irrational Games takes very seriously. If you've seen the behind-the-scenes videos with the voice actors you'd know this was the case. Everyone was just focusing on her appearance and crying sexism, which if you think about it is just as objectifying since they refused to take her seriously because she had cleavage.

I think it's becoming less of a problem though, just looking at games like Enslaved, Left 4 Dead, Uncharted, etc etc. Developers are realizing that people want characters they can relate to.

#16 Posted by John1912 (1858 posts) -

I think people confuse this topic way too much. They are too focused on that fact that something is wrong. All their issues are valid, but they conflict with the nature of games. Games are about extremes. Your doing adventurous things. Shooting, fighting, and blowing shit up largely requires an extreme stereo type to fill the role. So its hugely limiting your viable choices to fill that role within the CONTEXT of the game, as well as displaying what we consider to me moral, or virtuous traits.

Games arent PSAs

#17 Edited by pixieface (122 posts) -

Thank you for making this post. It was very well put together.

It is a problem. I call myself a feminist because I believe that women's equality and subsequent issues are very important. This becomes a problem to talk about in public because feminism has a massive stigma attached to it. I say that I'm a feminist in public and many people automatically think that I hate men, that I'm a lesbian, that I'm a silly little girl, that I'm a bully or mean. But I'm just a normal girl and I happen to like men very much. I'm dating one. I am just very tired of my sex playing second fiddle.

I feel left out in video games, which is distressing because I love video games. When I see women in leading roles (at least in Western games; I personally don't much like Japanese games so I don't play them or know many details about them), I see them as sex objects. Even then, they are few and far between. Mostly, women are relegated to peripheral roles. The damsel in distress, the love interest, the girlfriend, the wife, the one stuffed in a refrigerator. This is why I usually just play role playing games where I can choose my gender. It's difficult to find a good heroine anywhere else.

My favorite one was April from The Longest Journey. The lead character in Mirror's Edge is a good example of a non-sexualized lead, even though I didn't care for that game too much. I hated the old Lara Croft, but I'm very excited for her reboot.

As for sexualizing men - well, no. Men typically do not get sexualized. Men get the power fantasy, hyper-masculine treatment so the player, who is assumed to be male, can feel more empowered. The sexualized female is there to prop up the masculine male while he does cool stuff. Part of being sexualized is using the body in a sexual way to sell a product. Marcus Fenix did not have a buff body to appeal to females. His buff body was there to appeal to the non-sexual power fantasy desires in men. Start taking out the personality, putting men in bikinis, ripped up jeans, and unbuttoned shirts billowing in the breeze with close-ups on his throbbing pecs and his bulging package, and then you will have a sexualized male. It will probably make you feel uncomfortable if that was practically all you ever saw of men in video games. Don't get me wrong, turning men into simple minded power fantasies is not particularly good. There is a time and a place, but having it wide across the board must surely make men feel bored of it. Still, please know that there is a difference between that and sexualization.

Yes, video game characters in general mostly kind of suck right now, save for a few shining diamonds, and it would be undeniably better if both sexes got a more detailed treatment. However, it is hard to deny that women still get the worse half of it. Men get to be heroes. Women get to be love interests. I'm sorry, but that makes me uncomfortable.

#18 Posted by FlarePhoenix (420 posts) -

@Gamer_152 said:

@FlarePhoenix: Actually, I'd been thinking about writing this for a very long time and began writing it before the Arkham City controversy. I assure you that my intention is not to stir up controversy here, I'm presenting what I believe to be a collection of reasonable opinions in a rather calm manner. What's more I honestly don't think I've been lazy with this, I spent a considerable amount of time preparing to write, writing and refining this blog. Am I not allowed to blog about topics which I know a fair number of people might want to comment on?

My post was directed at Winternet's question asking why so many topics about sexism in video games popping up lately; it was not directed at you or what you wrote. I can see how it does look like I was attacking what you wrote, and I do apologize for not making my point clearer. I was merely offering up a suggestion as to why so many topics about sexism in video games seem to be popping up lately. I was not trying to suggest it to be the only reason someone would talk about it.

Again, I'm sorry if I offended you with what I said. It wasn't my intention.

#19 Edited by Harkat (1101 posts) -

People throw the term "sexist" around far too liberally. I don't think real sexism is a problem in videogames.

Having said that, characters like Catwoman in Arkaham City annoy the shit out of me. She adds nothing to the universe of the game, her story is uninteresting, and her only purpose seem to be as a cynical marketing tactic to appeal based on sex. Her one character trait is sexuality. At every turn she alludes to seduction or sex of in a porn-style moaning voice. I don't give a fuck wether that's how she's portrayed in the comic books, she takes me out of what is otherwise a very atmospheric experience.

I don't consider this sexism, just sex in completely inappropriate context. Hookers and strip clubs in GTA and Mass Effect serve the story and atmosphere. Arkaham City's Catwoman is just a cheap shot at appeal based on titilation.

It's OK in Soul Calibur and Bayonetta, where overt sex fits the mood.

As for men being portrayed with unnecessary sex too; LOL! Massive muscles are a sign of strength, prominent tits are a sign of sexuality.

#20 Posted by Harkat (1101 posts) -

@pixieface said:

Men get to be heroes. Women get to be love interests. I'm sorry, but that makes me uncomfortable.

And it makes me sigh with weariness.

@pixieface, would you consider it a step forward if a Call of Duty protagonist was a female? In MW2 you play a large chunk of the game as a character than never speaks and whose face is never seen. Soldiers in the game refer to him as "Ramirez" and at the start of each mission you see he has a male first name. If his name happened to be a female one, would that be progress in your opinion?

No depiction of female struggle for equality, no comment on sexism, just a faceless shooter protagonist like any other who happened to be female. To me, that would be a sign of equality.

#21 Edited by pixieface (122 posts) -

@Harkat: Sure. I wouldn't have a problem with that.

I'm not sure why what I said was false, wrong, or bad, or why it would make you sigh with weariness. I'm sorry that I'm annoying you.

It's not as if I want blatant comments on sexism or equality in video games, though I would not reject those as bad ideas. What I really want are well-rounded females leads. The Adam Jensen and the Alan Wake and the Nathan Drake. Men do typically get to be heroes in mainstream video games - and in movies and comic books and television shows. Women typically do not. When female characters do take the lead, many times the characters themselves are just not up to scratch with the male ones, whether that's because she's a man-with-boobs or there for simple sexual appeal.

I just want to see my sex represented as heroes. I don't see what's wrong with that.

#22 Posted by Hailinel (24405 posts) -

@MattyFTM said:

The issue with sexualization of characters in video games isn't one confined to women. I mean, what percentage of male protagonists are muscley, hunky guys? I suspect it's a fairly high percentage. Obviously you can argue that the motives behind such characters are different. The aim might be to convey the idea that the character is strong and powerful, rather than merely attractive. But the reasons for having an attractive female character are probably deeper than simply wanting to have a character with nice boobs. I guess the point I'm making is pretty much the same one you are - it's not a simple topic. It's not as easy as just looking at something and saying that X is sexist and Y isn't. There are multiple angles to come from.

I agree with this. I mean, look at Kratos. The man is a hyperviolent sex maniac built like an Adonis. He is the epitome of a male sexual stereotype and yet despite how despicable the character is at a core level, people revel in his exploits.

#23 Posted by Mageman (351 posts) -

Video games are make believe, and as long as they aren't going for a very serious tone it really should strive for the most aesthetic and attractive character models.

And yeah the heroes are mostly white males, and you know why ? Because most of the audience are white males, it makes sense.

#24 Posted by TaliciaDragonsong (8698 posts) -

I honestly don't care (anymore). 

As long as I get to enjoy my own choices in what game I purchase I really don't.
I won't go to a typical testerone filled action movie and complain afterwards either.
 
My choice.
My choice to not worry about these small things.

#25 Posted by PenguinDust (12492 posts) -

I'm curious to know what are some examples of sexualized male characters? I know everyone cites Kratos and other brawny, bare-chested men as models for this design approach, but other people say that he is actually a power fantasy. Do women look at him the same way that men look at the DOA girls? In my experience, they don't which is why it isn't an issue with male characters. Maybe something like Vaan from Final Fantasy XII is a better possible example than Kratos. Then again, he might seem a bit (excuse the description) "fruity" for your average video game player. Does a sexualized male character threaten one's perception of their own sexuality? Does a strongly idealized female character design diminish a female gamer's personal body image? If so, do men feel the same sense of inadequacy when they look at burly Kratos or do they see it as something to aspire to? I'm not sure of the answers to these questions since the issues of body image, sexuality and youth in society are far greater than some digital distractions. Why are there hot women on the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine?

#26 Posted by Animasta (14673 posts) -

this topic isn't going to go anywhere because no one's changing any minds about this, so sexism is over

#27 Edited by Harkat (1101 posts) -

@pixieface said:

@Harkat: Sure. I wouldn't have a problem with that.

I'm not sure why what I said was false, wrong, or bad, or why it would make you sigh with weariness. I'm sorry that I'm annoying you.

It's not as if I want blatant comments on sexism or equality in video games, though I would not reject those as bad ideas. What I really want are well-rounded females leads. The Adam Jensen and the Alan Wake and the Nathan Drake. Men do typically get to be heroes in mainstream video games - and in movies and comic books and television shows. Women typically do not. When female characters do take the lead, many times the characters themselves are just not up to scratch with the male ones, whether that's because she's a man-with-boobs or there for simple sexual appeal.

I just want to see my sex represented as heroes. I don't see what's wrong with that.

I meant I sigh with weariness at having to rescue damsels in distress all the time. It's boring and cheap.

Good example with Adam Jensen and Alan Wake, but to be fair, that quality of characters is hard to come by in general. Gaming is a male dominated-hobby, good characters are rare, and thus; good female characters are especially rare. Mass Effect comes to mind.

Another question:

Would it have been fine if Alan Wake was Alexandra Wake, his wife was a husband, and nothing else about the character had been changed? Or should female characters be portrayed as more "feminine".

#28 Posted by Hailinel (24405 posts) -

@PenguinDust said:

I'm curious to know what are some examples of sexualized male characters? I know everyone cites Kratos and other brawny, bare-chested men as models for this design approach, but other people say that he is actually a power fantasy. Do women look at him the same way that men look at the DOA girls? In my experience, they don't which is why it isn't an issue with male characters. Maybe something like Vaan from Final Fantasy XII is a better possible example than Kratos. Then again, he might seem a bit (excuse the description) "fruity" for your average video game player. Does a sexualized male character threaten one's perception of their own sexuality? Does a strongly idealized female character design diminish a female gamer's personal body image? If so, do men feel the same sense of inadequacy when they look at burly Kratos or do they see it as something to aspire to? I'm not sure of the answers to these questions since the issues of body image, sexuality and youth in society are far greater than some digital distractions. Why are there hot women on the cover of Cosmopolitan Magazine?

Sexualization comes in many forms. There's Kratos, sure, but there are also characters like Vaan, or Alucard, or the majority of the male characters as depicted in the Dynasty Warriors series, which run the gamut from rugged and manly to effeminate and beautiful. And no, Kratos is not someone I'd ever aspire to be, nor would I hope most people do. He's big, strong, and powerful, yes, but his personality and attitude (KILL FUCK KILL RAGE KILL FUCK KILL RAGE RAGE RAGE KILL KILL KILL) are of a stereotypical masculine quality that is just disgusting. As for Vaan specifically, he's hardly a fruit. It's he a pretty boy? Yeah, sure, but his personality doesn't paint him as one. Not like, say, Zhang He, in the Dynasty Warriors series:

"Fruity" is not an inaccurate description of his personality.

That being said, Dynasty Warriors has such a broad range of character types, from the aforementioned rugged, manly men to the more effeminate, pretty guys to hardened, no-nonsense amazonian women to pretty, feminine girls that it's hard to get up in arms about the depiction of any of them. The cast is so large and diverse that there is bound to be someone among the roster for everyone. But it should also be noted that the depictions of all of the characters are meant to be larger than life.

#29 Edited by Harkat (1101 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

And no, Kratos is not someone I'd ever aspire to be, nor would I hope most people do. He's big, strong, and powerful, yes, but his personality and attitude (KILL FUCK KILL RAGE KILL FUCK KILL RAGE RAGE RAGE KILL KILL KILL) are of a stereotypical masculine quality that is just disgusting.

Let's not get so politically correct we forget there ARE in fact biological differences between how men and women's minds work. Being big, powerful and skillfully slaughtering hordes of "enemies" and having regular sex with beautiful girls is something that appeals to most men on a primal level. Of course, a focus on "killing the enemy" does not a stable society make.

So yes, while perverse, Kratos is a power fantasy we would do ill to deny. But let's keep it a fantasy.

#30 Edited by pixieface (122 posts) -

@PenguinDust: Good post.

Sexualization of females is a tricky subject. Men throughout history have never been reduced to their ability to produced babies the way females have. Women, more than men, are kidnapped into the sex trafficking world. Women, far more than men, have been raped and sexually abused on both an individual level and large-scale systematic one (comfort women of WWII come to mind). Women have more body issues thanks to the way the media puts so much pressure on the female body looking "attractive", resulting in anorexia and bulimia in many young women. All of these things can and do happen to men, but the fact that they are more prevalent in women says a lot.

So when some people say "sexualization of men" most people do not actually mean sexualization of men. They mean turning a male character into a simple-minded power fantasy that taps into the base desires of a male player. I don't think this is an inherently terrible thing. There is a time and place for silly power fantasies, just as there is a time and a place for sexy ladies. But power fantasies are different from sexual objects. Kratos is a power fantasy. He is strong, he is fueled by rage, he can have sex with any lovely lady he wants and they will enjoy it, and he murders gods with gleeful violent abandon. He is the epitome of masculinity. Were he a sexual object, his entire character would be reduced to how he is perceived by women. The fact that there is no female gaze employed and that he was not marketed to females makes him a power fantasy.

Again, it's not an inherently bad thing. God of War is good times. It's just worth noting.

@Harkat:

Oops, I apologize! I thought you were bothered by my post instead of women-as-love-interest thing. Eep. Sorry! :(

It's interesting that you point out if a good female character is "feminine" or just an Alexandra. Would you describe Alan Wake as masculine? That's a rhetorical question, of course, unless you would like to analyze that. Masculine and feminine traits are largely social constructs.

What it boils down to is just writing a good character. The character, regardless of gender, ought to have a goal, desires, dreams, fears, and character flaws they must overcome. Gender is mostly secondary. A female character does not necessarily need to be strong, butch, bitchy, angry, or what have you to be "strong" or good. A female character does not need to be very emotional, motherly, long-haired, or docile to fulfill a feminine-quota. The character should be pulling from a wide-variety of traits to become interesting. Just look at April from The Longest Journey. On the surface, she's just some college girl trying to be a painter. Below that, she has deep-seated issues with her father and growing up in general. Over the course of the game, she gains self-confidence and learns to reconcile with her past.

And because I just rewatched Kill Bill last night, I'll point out The Bride as another good example of a female character. Tough, reliable, but also her own person. Tarantino did not feel the need to make her butch to compensate for the fact that she is a girl in an action role, or overly feminine just because she has breasts. She is a mother but also a fighter. And even given the absurdity of the movie, she never breaks the suspension of disbelief and is easy to root for because she struggles. She is compelling in that way.

#31 Posted by JoeyRavn (4966 posts) -

There was a time when I really, really tried to understand all these things about sexism, racism and stuff. When Sara Lima of Comic Vine fame insulted me because trousers are somehow degrading for Wonder Woman, I decided I wouldn't care anymore. There is no way anything can please everyone. Everything you do will offend someone, somewhere, in some way or another.

So, yeah. Fuck everything.

#32 Posted by Hailinel (24405 posts) -

@Harkat said:

@Hailinel said:

And no, Kratos is not someone I'd ever aspire to be, nor would I hope most people do. He's big, strong, and powerful, yes, but his personality and attitude (KILL FUCK KILL RAGE KILL FUCK KILL RAGE RAGE RAGE KILL KILL KILL) are of a stereotypical masculine quality that is just disgusting.

Let's not get so politically correct we forget there ARE in fact biological differences between how men and women's minds work. Being big, powerful and skillfully slaughtering hordes of "enemies" and having regular sex with beautiful girls is something that appeals to most men on a primal level. Of course, a focus on "killing the enemy" does not a stable society make.

So yes, while perverse, Kratos is a power fantasy we would do ill to deny. But let's keep it a fantasy.

You can't really say that it applies to most men when you don't have the stats to back it up. Everyone has their fantasies about how they'd like to be or what sort of men/women they like or specific kinks that get them aroused, but you cannot by any means point to Kratos and say that, deep down, most men want to be that guy. Kratos is a petulant asshole fueled by rage and little else. There is nothing even remotely personable about him because his general attitude toward confronting any kind of adversity is to tear things apart until the screaming stops. He doesn't even have qualms about murdering someone that has no intent to harm him if it'll net him another instrument of death and destruction.

#33 Posted by pixieface (122 posts) -

@JoeyRavn: She... she said what?

That... that is just so silly. I don't know what to say to that. :/

@Animasta: Points for Kate Beaton!

#34 Posted by Harkat (1101 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

@Harkat said:

@Hailinel said:

And no, Kratos is not someone I'd ever aspire to be, nor would I hope most people do. He's big, strong, and powerful, yes, but his personality and attitude (KILL FUCK KILL RAGE KILL FUCK KILL RAGE RAGE RAGE KILL KILL KILL) are of a stereotypical masculine quality that is just disgusting.

Let's not get so politically correct we forget there ARE in fact biological differences between how men and women's minds work. Being big, powerful and skillfully slaughtering hordes of "enemies" and having regular sex with beautiful girls is something that appeals to most men on a primal level. Of course, a focus on "killing the enemy" does not a stable society make.

So yes, while perverse, Kratos is a power fantasy we would do ill to deny. But let's keep it a fantasy.

You can't really say that it applies to most men when you don't have the stats to back it up. Everyone has their fantasies about how they'd like to be or what sort of men/women they like or specific kinks that get them aroused, but you cannot by any means point to Kratos and say that, deep down, most men want to be that guy. Kratos is a petulant asshole fueled by rage and little else. There is nothing even remotely personable about him because his general attitude toward confronting any kind of adversity is to tear things apart until the screaming stops. He doesn't even have qualms about murdering someone that has no intent to harm him if it'll net him another instrument of death and destruction.

I don't mean to say that men want to "be" Kratos in general. I'm just saying Kratos is a power fantasy that men like to indulge in, which is perfectly natural of them.

#35 Posted by Harkat (1101 posts) -

@pixieface said:

@Harkat:

It's interesting that you point out if a good female character is "feminine" or just an Alexandra. Would you describe Alan Wake as masculine? That's a rhetorical question, of course, unless you would like to analyze that. Masculine and feminine traits are largely social constructs.

Are they though? It makes strong evolutionary sense that men and women are biologically different.

Not that videogames necessarily have to reflect that.

#36 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -

@pixieface said:

Men get to be heroes. Women get to be love interests. I'm sorry, but that makes me uncomfortable.

For games in first person perspective I don't care, for third person perspective, I prefer female characters. If I'm going to be watching one character moving on the screen for hours then I prefer to see a female body, also I prefer she to be hot. Basically I think that's the idea behind characters as Lara Croft and Bayonetta, and if there's something wrong with it I don't see it.

But again, I just buy and play what I like, and I don't worry about the rest. There are hundreds of casual games I'd never play, the market is being casualized even before the wii appeared, trying to appeal a wider audience, but as far as I get my share of games, I don't care. I don't see why should be get sensitive about topics like this, I don't see how this is a problem.

@PenguinDust said:

I'm curious to know what are some examples of sexualized male characters? I know everyone cites Kratos and other brawny, bare-chested men as models for this design approach, but other people say that he is actually a power fantasy.

The character in the last castlevania was supposed to be similar to a barbarian, probably shaved head, then Kojima decided that was not right, and changed him with a more appealing version. He's not showing much skin, AFAIK, but it's the same kind of thing.

@pixieface said:

[...] All of these things can and do happen to men, but the fact that they are more prevalent in women says a lot.

There are important differences among genres from a biological point of view, which are part of the causes for the differences in culture. As biology becomes less important (we are not hunting anymore, in general) the culture will match reality. However, libido is caused mostly by testosterone, so sex sells, but it sells much more to men. And in short, if developers are trying to make a product and sell it they will try to please their customers. The point is, why can't we just enjoy it? There are some threads about this, but I don't see why or how is it an issue.

On the other hand, some other developers came with this idea of making a game like "The sims", nobody is forcing or encouraging women to play it, nobody is preventing or discouraging men to play it, but people who play it are mostly women. You could say it's about culture, but I highly doubt it, there are some things that are just hardwired in human brains. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer

#37 Posted by Harkat (1101 posts) -

@Trylks said:

There are important differences among genres from a biological point of view, which are part of the causes for the differences in culture. As biology becomes less important (we are not hunting anymore, in general) the culture will match reality. However, libido is caused mostly by testosterone, so sex sells, but it sells much more to men. And in short, if developers are trying to make a product and sell it they will try to please their customers. The point is, why can't we just enjoy it? There are some threads about this, but I don't see why or how is it an issue.

On the other hand, some other developers came with this idea of making a game like "The sims", nobody is forcing or encouraging women to play it, nobody is preventing or discouraging men to play it, but people who play it are mostly women. You could say it's about culture, but I highly doubt it, there are some things that are just hardwired in human brains. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer

Quoted for truth. I'm all for looking towards the future, but let's not disregard science for the sake of political correctness.

#38 Posted by AlexanderSheen (4967 posts) -

Sometimes ignorance is blessing I guess.

#39 Posted by JoeyRavn (4966 posts) -

@pixieface said:

@JoeyRavn: She... she said what?

That... that is just so silly. I don't know what to say to that. :/

Yep. It was around the time JMS started writing the Odyssey arc in Wonder Woman, with the new costume that changed the one-piece with some pants, a shirt and a jacket. I said that I was fine with the change, because, well, that costume was quite objectifying. Just look at Wonder Woman's costume evolution: from a long-to-the-ankles shirt to that skimpy swimsuit. The Sara Lima claimed that putting pants on her was limiting her identity, that her costume was iconic and that I was a fucking male chauvinist for saying that women shouldn't even put make up on when they go out. I, of course, never even suggested that... but that's Comic Vine for you. You can probably look at that topic yourself if you want. I guess it's one of the last things on my posting history there, since I stopped going altogether to that site after that episode.

#40 Posted by Animasta (14673 posts) -

@JoeyRavn said:

@pixieface said:

@JoeyRavn: She... she said what?

That... that is just so silly. I don't know what to say to that. :/

Yep. It was around the time JMS started writing the Odyssey arc in Wonder Woman, with the new costume that changed the one-piece with some pants, a shirt and a jacket. I said that I was fine with the change, because, well, that costume was quite objectifying. Just look at Wonder Woman's costume evolution: from a long-to-the-ankles shirt to that skimpy swimsuit. The Sara Lima claimed that putting pants on her was limiting her identity, that her costume was iconic and that I was a fucking male chauvinist for saying that women shouldn't even put make up on when they go out. I, of course, never even suggested that... but that's Comic Vine for you. You can probably look at that topic yourself if you want. I guess it's one of the last things on my posting history there, since I stopped going altogether to that site after that episode.

sara's crazy, one only needs to listen to the romancecast to figure that out

#41 Posted by Hailinel (24405 posts) -

@Harkat said:

@Trylks said:

There are important differences among genres from a biological point of view, which are part of the causes for the differences in culture. As biology becomes less important (we are not hunting anymore, in general) the culture will match reality. However, libido is caused mostly by testosterone, so sex sells, but it sells much more to men. And in short, if developers are trying to make a product and sell it they will try to please their customers. The point is, why can't we just enjoy it? There are some threads about this, but I don't see why or how is it an issue.

On the other hand, some other developers came with this idea of making a game like "The sims", nobody is forcing or encouraging women to play it, nobody is preventing or discouraging men to play it, but people who play it are mostly women. You could say it's about culture, but I highly doubt it, there are some things that are just hardwired in human brains. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Reimer

Quoted for truth. I'm all for looking towards the future, but let's not disregard science for the sake of political correctness.

There's disregarding science, and there's putting an emphasis on a select few studies that only emphasize the points you want to support as a means to invalidate what others have to say. I know plenty of girls that have no interest in The Sims, I know plenty of guys that would prefer to never touch a God of War game. You can't use scientific reports as a crutch, particularly in a debate where most of the points come from personal experience and beliefs. In this debate, few people care about the biological science behind it all. The question is where the line is crossed when something becomes sexist.

#42 Edited by pixieface (122 posts) -

@Trylks said:

@pixieface said:

Men get to be heroes. Women get to be love interests. I'm sorry, but that makes me uncomfortable.

For games in first person perspective I don't care, for third person perspective, I prefer female characters. If I'm going to be watching one character moving on the screen for hours then I prefer to see a female body, also I prefer she to be hot. Basically I think that's the idea behind characters as Lara Croft and Bayonetta, and if there's something wrong with it I don't see it.

But again, I just buy and play what I like, and I don't worry about the rest. There are hundreds of casual games I'd never play, the market is being casualized even before the wii appeared, trying to appeal a wider audience, but as far as I get my share of games, I don't care. I don't see why should be get sensitive about topics like this, I don't see how this is a problem.

@pixieface said:

[...] All of these things can and do happen to men, but the fact that they are more prevalent in women says a lot.

There are important differences among genres from a biological point of view, which are part of the causes for the differences in culture. As biology becomes less important (we are not hunting anymore, in general) the culture will match reality. However, libido is caused mostly by testosterone, so sex sells, but it sells much more to men. And in short, if developers are trying to make a product and sell it they will try to please their customers. The point is, why can't we just enjoy it? There are some threads about this, but I don't see why or how is it an issue.

I'm not saying that making male power fantasies or making women into simple sexy ladies that don't do much is inherently bad. I think I've already said that more than once, actually. There is a time and a place for this kind of thing. If developers want to make easy money without creating something of intellectual value, I really don't have a problem with that. I'm not even against porn.

However, I start having a problem when that is all I see of women, even though I am a paying consumer who loves video games - and when I am not the only girl who is paying money. It makes me feel left out. It makes me feel like the industry is saying that playing second fiddle to men is all I am good for. It makes me feel bad about my body because I can never be Lara Croft or Bayonetta. It seems as though the industry is saying that women simply cannot be heroes because of the staggering lack of them. It's just... not comfortable. I do not know how else to say this.

Many men do not see it as a problem because the market caters to them. They have the privilege. You do not have to browse through Netflix and see practically all television and movie heroes as female, where male leads are mostly just relegated to vapid romantic comedies. You do not have to browse through video games and see all the heroes as female and see the men, if there are any at all, many times reduced to their penises and are subservient to women in their character roles.

I don't want to take away power fantasies, or any fantasies at all. I just want women to be heroes.

#43 Edited by Divina_Rex (351 posts) -

I think man has great points.

#44 Posted by Trylks (829 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

You can't use scientific reports as a crutch, particularly in a debate where most of the points come from personal experience and beliefs. In this debate, few people care about the biological science behind it all. The question is where the line is crossed when something becomes sexist.

What I say is that there are differences between both sexes, and that is just the way it is, we can call it sexism or not, how we name reality is secondary when compared with how reality truly is.

@pixieface said:

However, I start having a problem when that is all I see of women, even though I am a paying consumer who loves video games - and when I am not the only girl who is paying money. It makes me feel left out. [...]

I don't want to take away power fantasies, or any fantasies at all. I just want women to be heroes.

I guess the female gamers are still a minority, and thus developers will focus on males most of the time, they do their best to appeal their audiences, as audiences change so will they, specially if this is an issue for you and this kind of things have an inpact in your (as a group) purchase decisions. Developers will do whatever gives them money, the day the wave of a schlong under a skirt boosts the sales of a game we will be seeing lots of those, if that's ever the case. It's not now and I doubt it will ever be, because there are reasons for the way things are, and in any way they evolve, it will be for good reasons. Nothing happens for nothing.

In any case, things are changing to some extent, and it's possible to find cool female characters in may games, like wet, jade empire, beyond good and evil, mirror's edge, the new tomb raider, etc. In general they are related with the concept: "female protagonist", although again most of these games are again targetted towards men, because women don't play games so much anyway, which may be the cause or the consequence of this trend. As I say, I think there are biological differences between sexes, one of them the competitiveness, and hunger for challenges, which is the main appeal of games, achieving challenges, and this is as well related with testosterone.

Were this an issue, I'd prefer fighting against the aging process than this, because growing old and dying worries me more. But of course, each one is free to choose their causes.

#45 Posted by Hailinel (24405 posts) -

@Trylks said:

@Hailinel said:

You can't use scientific reports as a crutch, particularly in a debate where most of the points come from personal experience and beliefs. In this debate, few people care about the biological science behind it all. The question is where the line is crossed when something becomes sexist.

What I say is that there are differences between both sexes, and that is just the way it is, we can call it sexism or not, how we name reality is secondary when compared with how reality truly is.

@pixieface said:

However, I start having a problem when that is all I see of women, even though I am a paying consumer who loves video games - and when I am not the only girl who is paying money. It makes me feel left out. [...]

I don't want to take away power fantasies, or any fantasies at all. I just want women to be heroes.

I guess the female gamers are still a minority, and thus developers will focus on males most of the time, they do their best to appeal their audiences, as audiences change so will they, specially if this is an issue for you and this kind of things have an inpact in your (as a group) purchase decisions. Developers will do whatever gives them money, the day the wave of a schlong under a skirt boosts the sales of a game we will be seeing lots of those, if that's ever the case. It's not now and I doubt it will ever be, because there are reasons for the way things are, and in any way they evolve, it will be for good reasons. Nothing happens for nothing.

In any case, things are changing to some extent, and it's possible to find cool female characters in may games, like wet, jade empire, beyond good and evil, mirror's edge, the new tomb raider, etc. In general they are related with the concept: "female protagonist", although again most of these games are again targetted towards men, because women don't play games so much anyway, which may be the cause or the consequence of this trend. As I say, I think there are biological differences between sexes, one of them the competitiveness, and hunger for challenges, which is the main appeal of games, achieving challenges, and this is as well related with testosterone.

Were this an issue, I'd prefer fighting against the aging process than this, because growing old and dying worries me more. But of course, each one is free to choose their causes.

That there are differences between the sexes is a well-known quantity, but those differences don't lessen the notion that sexism exists. You can't say, for example, that women are biologically different from men, and thus deserve less pay for equal work. That doesn't fly. That is sexist. What you seem to be implying is that sexism is perfectly natural and acceptable because of the differences in gender.

#46 Edited by lockwoodx (2479 posts) -

Political correctness has ruined our nation and it will ruin video games if you let it.
 
As soon as video games are officially declared art in 2012 as planned, sexism in video games will simply be an interpretation of it's designer, I.E. something else pointless to complain about.

#47 Posted by habster3 (3595 posts) -

As someone who's all for equal rights, I don't completely understand the controversy behind games like Arkham City (Oh no! He called her a "bitch"!) or other games of that nature. I do see the point, however, in games like Tomb Raider (glad they're making her more realistic this time) and Dead or Alive, but I also think some movies and other forms of entertainment should be labelled sexist to some extent; I guess they'll never be persecuted because those mediums are more widely-accepted than the "lowly" video game. Fortunately, there are games like Portal and Mirror's Edge to shut up some of this nonsense.

#48 Edited by Trylks (829 posts) -

@Hailinel said:

That there are differences between the sexes is a well-known quantity, but those differences don't lessen the notion that sexism exists. You can't say, for example, that women are biologically different from men, and thus deserve less pay for equal work. That doesn't fly. That is sexist. What you seem to be implying is that sexism is perfectly natural and acceptable because of the differences in gender.

On the contrary. The only way to avoid sexism is not to make any difference based on sex and not making an issue of it, just letting things be. So what I mean in fact is that these threads and making an issue of it is what is actually sexist.

http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/general-discussion/30/white-knighting-and-sexism/522945/

http://www.giantbomb.com/forums/general-discussion/30/female-character-models-in-videogames/522332/

There are differences between the sexes, the developers are going to try to appeal their audiences, some people like breasts, developers will make games that display breasts, that is natural. What you seem to be implying is that libido in men is sexist and should be repressed, which is going only to make things worse. White knighting is sexist for white knigts that search for a damsel in peril and not just a person in peril, if they search for a person in peril then that's not sexist.

But again, that's natural, put a bunch of teenagers with their brains flooded by hormones, it's not hard to know what they think, what they want, etc. My point is. "Can't we just take him to Omega and buy him a few dances?"

PD: of course women can also get their "dances" if they want to, otherwise that would be sexist.

#49 Posted by JasonR86 (9657 posts) -

I think of a few things when I hear this topic brought up.

First, though it is most obvious with women, men in video games are stylized to look like the ideal I would say just as often as women are. Look at the Gears of War guys for example. The vast majority of men will never be as buff as those guys. This is something that happens a lot. I guess we don't make such a huge deal about it because a) men are not usually thought of as being able to be objectified for some dumb reason and b) these objectified characters are more then just how they look. But I also think it is foolish to ignore the male characters in games when discussing objectification.

Further, I think about artistic intention versus gaming as a business. I always wonder, are sexualized characters designed that way due to a creative, artistic intention for that character or because the publishers/developers want to sell more copies of their games? I think we are often not privy to that information (truthful, unbiased information that is) so it makes judging what we've seen is a little hard. If one wants to be upset about sexualized characters in games the intent, whether it be artistic or not, the end result is that the characters are still sexualized regardless. But, I think knowing the intent changes my view on the matter.

The bottom line, for me, is that I don't care as much about how the character looks, male or female, compared to who the character is. Often, the female characters in games are relegated to the, for lack of a better term, 'sidekick' position to the male characters in games. These female characters exist within the context of the game because the male characters they are tied to exists. Often, if the female characters in games were taken out of the games they were in it would have no real effect on the story at large. I think that the real problem with female characters in games is that most of them don't really matter in the grand scheme of things. They are there to compliment the male characters who actually effect the larger storyline. That, to me, is the issue that should be addressed. I would much rather see a highly sexualized character like Bayonetta who actually effects the storyline in my game versus a plain Jane whose sole purpose is to compliment a male character.

#50 Posted by Hailinel (24405 posts) -

@Trylks: I'm not saying that the libido should be repressed. You don't even appear to be having the same conversation that the rest of us are having.