Extra Punctuation

Extra Punctuation
Excessively Excessive

Ben "Yahtzee" Croshaw | 3 Jul 2012 12:00
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So the portrayal of women in games has become a hot topic again, partly because of the Tomb Raidermolestation charges and that incredibly shameful Kickstarter incident. And this is a good thing, because even if the forum arguments endlessly circle the same drain as always, as long as the topic at least remains at the forefront of our conscious minds it becomes more likely that the problem will be addressed.

I actually kind of regretted bringing it up in my Zero Punctuation review of Lollipop Chainsaw, because I don't think any of the characters in that game can be taken seriously enough for the gender politics to be an issue. Yes, Juliet Starling is incredibly sexualized in appearance, but she can't be considered either desirable to men or emulatable by women because she's fucking nuts and demonstrates her affection for boys by carrying their disembodied heads around.

But anyway, inequality is a capital-letters Bad Thing. Well, "bad" might not be the right word. "Irrational" is better. And videogames can't take the whole blame for it, what with the volcanic quantities of movies that fail the Bechdel test and basically the entirety of human culture as a whole. But let's face it, videogames is possibly the medium in which it gets the most out of hand. Except maybe comic books. Our industry of choice might not have invented the string bikini, but we are the ones who persistently pretend that it's appropriate battle dress as we position the camera directly behind the heroine's wiggling bum.

Never attribute to malice what can easily be attributed to stupidity, and don't attribute Ivy from Soul Calibur's probably very armored underpants to some innate misogyny or conscious belief that every feminine thing in the universe exists to be jerked off to. The audience gets what it deserves, after all; tits only persist because more people have been proven to buy them, and big companies can be trusted only to emotionlessly take the path of least financial resistance. But the ridiculous underdressing of videogame females is just a symptom of the mainstream industry's big underlying problem. The root of almost every issue I have with triple-A release standards. The shadowy figure lurking behind Ivy's tits, War from Darksiders' stupid fucking armor, and the persistent nuking of major European cities in realistic war games. It's excess. That's the big problem. Excess, and the mindless pursuit of it.

And this issue goes deep, into the very grain of videogames. The pursuit of excess has been with videogaming throughout its entire evolution, and it's always difficult to rid ourselves of such basic, instinctual things, in the same way human beings will probably never shake off instinctual racism or the tendency to eat one's own snot. The pursuit of excess is an inevitable result of videogames being so closely tied to the cutting edge of technological development.

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