Girls in Gaming

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I touched on this subject yesterday, and it's something that I'd like to expand upon. Basically, there's a tendency among both game designers and game players to marginalize, sexualize or downright denigrate the role of women both in the games and playing games. It's a stupid, misogynistic and shockingly accepted behavior, and I really wish it'd stop.

Courtesy Ninja Theory
Nice job empowering young girls out there, Christie.

Now, don't get me wrong. As a red-blooded mostly-heterosexual male who still has a pulse, I can appreciate a curvaceous woman who's unashamed of her body. But really, how you can take the female fighters from Dead or Alive, stick them in a game that has them frolicking around on a beach in skimpy swimwear and not call it objectification? I mean to have strong women in a fighting game is one thing, but to take them from that context and stick them in another where all they do is flail around at one another, roll around on a sandy beach and pose provocatively for the player is quite another. At one point in DOAXBV 2, Christie does a pole dance. It's just absolutely shameless exploitation of her sexuality. On top of the unfortunate social message this sends, the engine's "jiggle physics" makes things unrealistic to the point of hilarity. Sure, somebody's somewhere getting off on it as I write this, but I could say the same thing about a picture of a particularly woolly sheep.

Courtesy Daily Mail UK
Somewhere out there, somebody's picturing Victa here on a pole.

Even when taking a lead role in a game, it's difficult to find a pre-determined female protagonist who isn't meant more to titillate than inspire. I haven't been able to take Lara Croft seriously for some time now, for example. Bayonetta is a pretty blatant example of female protagonist exploitation, but at least she's aware of it and is willing to laugh at how pathetic her exploiters can be. For the ultimate tongue-in-cheek gamer prick "taking the piss" experience, I'd love to see her saunter into a future No More Heroes title.

Courtesy Sega
Seriously. This babe, teamed up with Travis Touchdown. Think about it.

It's not all bad news, though. Yesterday I talked about Alyx Vance, from Half-Life 2 and its episodes. While she isn't the main character, she gets a lot more characterization and personality than Gordon does, other than what's projected onto him by the player. She's probably still number one on my list of female sidekicks, though Farah from Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is a very close second. And when it comes to protagonists, positive ones are certainly out there. Alex Roivas from Eternal Darkness comes to mind, as does Jade from Beyond Good and Evil. But I think it'd be very difficult for me to find a girl gamer who doesn't consider Samus Aran a very positive role model.

Courtesy Nintendo
Looking this good and kicking galactic-scale ass is a tough job.

Now, recent titles seem to depict Samus' Zero Suit as having been sprayed on by some unknown Chozo technology. However, it still makes sense, as an environmental layer between her and her armor that still provides a layer of protection. In addition, she doesn't need to look as good as she does, never relies upon her looks to survive, functions independently and projects a motherly instinct from time to time. She's a well-rounded, positive character that blows the crap out of alien pirates who cross her. Female Commander Shepard from the Mass Effect games is another good example. It's no coincidence that they're both voiced by Jennifer Hale, if you ask me.

Women in games continue to struggle to be taken seriously. The players, too, have a lot of misogyny and prejudice to deal with. A good chunk of the gaming population seems to think that girls who play games are limited to Farmville or Cooking Mama or Little Big Planet. That's such a complete load of immature misinformed crap. Face it, kids, women play games too, and not just the aforementioned "casual" titles. (And really, what makes those games "casual"? A lack of gunfire? No swearing? Not enough achievements to swell your virtual penis gamerscore?) There are entire organizations out there like the PMS Clan dedicated to reinforcing the notion that women who get behind the keyboard or controller are just as capable of racking up kills, scoring points and talking smack as the boys, if not moreso.

Ladies, don't let those underdeveloped wisecracking jerkoffs keep you from playing games you love and demanding a better representation for women. They're not better than you are and they don't have any right to say that you don't have a place on their servers or in their games. And what's more, deep down, they know it, and it scares the hell out of 'em. I think I've said more than enough on the subject, so let me close by reiterating something I've come to believe about pretty much any endeavor I or any of my peers undertake.

The only thing that's really capable of stopping you from making the most of the opportunities out there, in gaming or any other walk of life, is you.

Sadly, the only thing that will cause positive change is more females in the gaming industry. The reason there aren't as many is in some ways caused by discrimination, but mostly because there aren't as many girl gamers. Why? Because a lot of them feel objectified by it.

Vicious circle.

However, I await the day when women in games can be as fairly represented as men are. Things like Lara Croft are just annoying, I don't mind tongue in cheek, but I think that the people making Lara Croft are genuinely serious, and are basically 35 year old guys stuck with the mind of a 13 year old hormone addled boy, and this needs to stop.

Anyway, I agree with you, and I'm always happy to see a gamer girl who's managed to persevere through all this shit to get to the games they love.

It's the worst on MMORPGs
I can't move from one side of a room or area to the other side in the MMO Phantasy Star Universe without some asshole messaging me:

Low-life:

Want to send me a pic?

And another thing:
There is only one pair of pants for female characters in the game....and there is only one pair of shoes you can wear with it......what the fuck is that about?! All the other lower body part clothes are either very short..shorts and skirts.

AND ANOTHER THING:
The other type of males that try to protect us from the pervs and assholes, I get the vibe that they are doing it just because I am a girl.
"White Knights" piss me off too....not as much as the other types but still.

Somewhere out there, somebody's picturing Victa here on a pole.

I could not help but burst out laughing when I read that along with the picture.

Very nice work overall, a few other good examples could be the female side-kicks in Mass Effect, as well as possibly Cortana from Halo (although she borders on it occasionally).

Demented Teddy:
It's the worst on MMORPGs
I can't move from one side of a room or area to the other side in the MMO Phantasy Star Universe without some asshole messaging me:

Low-life:

Want to send me a pic?

Never played an MMORPG but what's funny is when I have heard of guys using female characters and having this happen to them.

And you've found the exact reason why I can't stand most female protagonists. Female characters are either blatantly objectified or made into a helpless, crying bag of moral 'dilemmas'.

Sadly, this doesn't just apply to games. Its is most entertainment. It's less common in books than in TV or films, but it's still a rampant issue. You've pretty much gotta have a thick skin as a woman if you want to have fun with anything. It either that or rage (typically my preferred choice actually, oops).

Sorry that first image had me distracted for a bit.

But I see what you mean and I agree. So many games have a female characters that look like they were designed by a 13 year old. It actually puts me off instead of attractive me in. I like my characters (both male and female) to be more human, instead of being more burly and sexy. (though a little of it is not too bad)

The thing is, even when the character isn't an exaggeration of sexuality, they are still always depicted as attractive, even characters like Alyx Vance (one of my favorite characters of all time). However, this may be unrelated to sexuality, and more to do with aesthetics (people, regardless of gender, like looking at attractive people).

But on the other hand, what about the opposite? The male characters are almost always "manly" men, with rugged good looks and gigantic muscles. (In Gears of War, ALL the male characters, even the old general, have huge and impossibly large muscles.)

Female players face prejudice in gaming because of one reason: They're ountnumbered. For every guy gamer, there's 1,000 to 10,000 girl gamers. Not to mention that whether or not you have a girlfriend, most guys will feel an attraction to a female who shares their interests, especially when it's so rare, as is the case here. This causes the flirting, the put downs, the sexual innuendo that girl gamers always hear.

I'd quite like to see games appealing to more women with actual characterisation of their female characters as opposed to "OMG LOOK IT COMES IN PINK" mentality that seems rife in the industry today. Then again, I think the same needs to apply to male characters too as they are usually very underdeveloped.

I remember when I first player Uncharted: Drake's Fortune; I thought that Elena was a fantastic example of a good and believable female character (apart from the 'I never used a gun but can suddenly kick virtual pirate ass as soon as i pick one up' thing) but then in Uncharted 2 they introduce Chloe who, in my opinion is little more than a stereotypical 'seductive bad-ass' character.

Also does anyone else think that Ninja Gaiden has the most over the top and degrading female characters ever? Its like a bunch of hormonal 17 year olds who needed a way to over-compensate were put in charge of the entire game!

with more female gamers there may be more female game designers which might change the balance, the only game i've played where i actually liked (not as in fancied but cared about because they weren't whiny or overly-sexualised) was heather from silent hill 3

Ryokai:
But on the other hand, what about the opposite? The male characters are almost always "manly" men, with rugged good looks and gigantic muscles. (In Gears of War, ALL the male characters, even the old general, have huge and impossibly large muscles.)

i used to think this too but according to the GOW3 trailer there's a lady gear now so yeah, awesome :)

Demented Teddy:
It's the worst on MMORPGs
I can't move from one side of a room or area to the other side in the MMO Phantasy Star Universe without some asshole messaging me:

Low-life:

Want to send me a pic?

This. I am forever getting this.

Why can I not just enjoy my game as a player, instead of an object?

We need more people like Jade from Beyond Good and Evil. Down-to-earth, not objectified, and believable.

Woman can kick ass too. Elfen Lied's Lucy is a good example, girls like her should make it into games (One of my favourite anime characters btw). And I've met a really skilled woman in Day of Defeat: Source, who is accepted and popular among the other guys who've played with her.

MissPixxie:

Demented Teddy:
It's the worst on MMORPGs
I can't move from one side of a room or area to the other side in the MMO Phantasy Star Universe without some asshole messaging me:

Low-life:

Want to send me a pic?

This. I am forever getting this.

Why can I not just enjoy my game as a player, instead of an object?

I hate it when this happens. Drives me nuts. The answer is always no. Always. Yet they keep asking, like if they're persistent it's going to change, when it reality all it gets them is a report.

For my money, one of the greatest female game characters ever is Alisa Landale from the original Phantasy Star. She's attractive but not ridiculously sexualized. She's also strong and capable; besides being the all-around strongest character in combat, she takes up the game's main quest on behalf of her slain older brother. In other words, she's doing a man's job, and doing it better than he did. (^_^)

BlueInkAlchemist:
I touched on this subject yesterday, and it's something that I'd like to expand upon. Basically, there's a tendency among both game designers and game players to marginalize, sexualize or downright denigrate the role of women both in the games and playing games. It's a stupid, misogynistic and shockingly accepted behavior, and I really wish it'd stop....

...Sure, somebody's somewhere getting off on it as I write this...

...Bayonetta...

...It's not all bad news, though. Yesterday I talked about Alyx Vance, from Half-Life 2 and its episodes....
... Farah from Prince of Persia: Sands of Time is a very close second...

...Ladies, don't let those underdeveloped wisecracking jerkoffs keep you from playing games you love and demanding a better representation for women...

...The only thing that's really capable of stopping you from making the most of the opportunities out there, in gaming or any other walk of life, is you...

The parts above are the parts I've seen in every single one of these posts ever since I joined the Escapist. These topics come out once a month or, if the flavour of the week is feminism, a lot more.

The parts in bold are the parts I find patronising to women in general. Women do not need a 'call to arms' and, if I was a woman, I think having someone step in an tell me, basically, 'don't let men bully you', I'd be a little bit insulted.

But hey, I'm a middle-class white-guy, so what do I know?

Totenkopf:
Woman can kick ass too. Elfen Lied's Lucy is a good example, girls like her should make it into games (One of my favourite anime characters btw). And I've met a really skilled woman in Day of Defeat: Source, who is accepted and popular among the other guys who've played with her.

Lucy is one hell of a double edged sword. I thought she was pretty hot, but she's also able to dismember you in a split second....

Also I think FemShep from Mass Effect can be a pretty strong, not blatantly sexual character.

I agree with you 100% good sir, but I see many of these threads saying basically the same thing, which is good I suppose because we share the same view.
My media assignment was going to be about the objectification of women in gaming, but I dropped Media Studies... I made a powerpoint and everything!
I mentioned to a friend about how the women in Final Fantasy games are unrealistically skinny and poorly dressed. I demand fatties! It's hard to believe they live in a place without girls of different sizes.
They're trying to introduce plus size models into modelling and TV, so it should be in games too.
Bayonetta is just ugh... It's unlikely gamer guys will find a girl like that in real life.
It's the same with guys. I'll never find me a Leon Kennedy.

Scribjerky:

MissPixxie:

Demented Teddy:
It's the worst on MMORPGs
I can't move from one side of a room or area to the other side in the MMO Phantasy Star Universe without some asshole messaging me:

Low-life:

Want to send me a pic?

This. I am forever getting this.

Why can I not just enjoy my game as a player, instead of an object?

I hate it when this happens. Drives me nuts. The answer is always no. Always. Yet they keep asking, like if they're persistent it's going to change, when it reality all it gets them is a report.

I'd never thought stuff like this could actually happen. Shocking, you have my pity. Must be damn annoying. I've never witnessed anything like this online in Day of Defeat. When a female gamer joined a game, everyone was okay with that and the round just continued.

First of all, I want more "serious" female leads and less... Well, less of what we currently have. Alyx and the Mirror's Edge (written by a female writer) girls were great, succeeding in being attractive, strong, intelligent and fun. Sadly, this isn't going to happen as often as we may like.

I don't have time to go into the whole issue of "butch girls" vs "girlie girls" right now, but the sum of that argument is that a main character who's male doesn't have to be Marcus Fenix to kill hundreds, yet people think that a female would have to be. Gordan Freeman could've easily been Gordina Freewoman. When I choose to play as a female character in RPGs they're usually pretty... of course, but they're also not super-skinny and triple D. If they are gonna be swinging a sword, they need mucle, but they don't need to be Conan or Red Sonja... but why not let them be? :)

I think one of the big problems people ignore isn't that "girl's can't kick ass" 'cause they can. It's that "girl's can't have their asses kicked". It's a fact, that in the society we live in, playing a female lead who swings a machete to butcher the people around her is fine, but there's something very distrubing about seeing a female being punched or kicked to most people. It's a form of discrimination, but it's responsible for a lot of what people think of as "men making games for men". When you're making a game, you need to be aware of how it will go down with the mothers who watch their children play. It's a big deal.

Also, I don't want developers having female characters if the story doesn't support it. Don't give extra roles to women, just give them the roles that make the story better instead of shying away from them.

I inevitably prefer women with at least a realistic personality in a game. Its one of the resons I love bioware games, fine the characters tend to be idealized but at least they have a personality.

Incidentally anyone who has problems with with lowlifes on MMORPGs should send them to EvE to look for the Hellcats, a women only corp of incredibly skilled pirates.

gellert1984:
I inevitably prefer women with at least a realistic personality in a game. Its one of the resons I love bioware games, fine the characters tend to be idealized but at least they have a personality.

Incidentally anyone who has problems with with lowlifes on MMORPGs should send them to EvE to look for the Hellcats, a women only corp of incredibly skilled pirates.

Are they a clan or NPC controlled?

Ryokai:
The thing is, even when the character isn't an exaggeration of sexuality, they are still always depicted as attractive, even characters like Alyx Vance (one of my favorite characters of all time). However, this may be unrelated to sexuality, and more to do with aesthetics (people, regardless of gender, like looking at attractive people).

But on the other hand, what about the opposite? The male characters are almost always "manly" men, with rugged good looks and gigantic muscles. (In Gears of War, ALL the male characters, even the old general, have huge and impossibly large muscles.)

At least I don't have to be the voice of reason here. You beat me to it. Games that objectify anyone(not just women) aren't for everyone...Hell do I get mad every time a black person is a villain in a game/movie? Does the gay community get into an uproar every time a game like GTA features an overly gay character? In other words some people are too friggin sensitive. I guess we shouldn't make any more alien shooters because the aliens might get offended..??

As for female gamers...They are considered a minority regardless of how true that is. And to the claims that they can't play a game in peace without being harassed...take this into consideration; There are a large(very large) number of gamers who are either children or man-childs who have yet to date or even have known a woman's touch(yeah I put that gently). These little bunch of retards spoil it for those of us who really don't care that you're on the same team unless you're a liability in the game. Gee I guess I've offended retarded people at this point and should feel some way about that...Well I don't.

If everyone played/purchased/saw with a bit more maturity then it wouldn't matter if you were male, female, black, asian, hispanic, spoke with an accent/language other than english, etc.. But the cold hard fact is that's not the case. I'd love to see the day where it did because I wouldn't have to hear sub 18 year olds spouting the "N" word every time I jump into a game

Ladies...game on.. Fellas...grow up.

to be perfectly honest, i don't really mind the skimpily dressed women in gaming. It gives me something else to look at ;P. But I wouldn't object to some properly dressed female game characters either.

And I do get a little stick for being a female gamer, everybody seems to think that a female gamer is some fat chick who never leaves the house and couldn't attract a flea from a dog, or as you said, just play really not very exciting games like cooking mama. :/ I, for example, mostly play horror survival games such as Resident Evil and Silent Hill, and would go nowhere near Cooking Mama. Though I must admit that most of my friends can't play Silent Hill without screaching the building down everytime a nurse or other creature pops up. >.<

AngloDoom:

The parts above are the parts I've seen in every single one of these posts ever since I joined the Escapist. These topics come out once a month or, if the flavour of the week is feminism, a lot more.

The parts in bold are the parts I find patronising to women in general. Women do not need a 'call to arms' and, if I was a woman, I think having someone step in an tell me, basically, 'don't let men bully you', I'd be a little bit insulted.

But hey, I'm a middle-class white-guy, so what do I know?

I won't pretend I'm the first person to say these things, and I'm pretty sure they've been said better by others. But I just get pissed off and feel I need to speak up on behalf of people who have a functioning frontal lobe when I see something like this:

image

Are male characters in games not rediculiously handsome and hollywood beautiful too creating an unrealistic standard of beauty for us to aspire too???? How come you never see threads about people in video games being unrealisticlly beautiful, yadda yadda?

I myself started a thread much like this one. Here's the link:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.187052-VG-women-you-actually-respect#5706902

I didn't go as in depth, but kudos for doing so.

Unfortunately, gaming trends are dictated by the masses, and the masses love their jiggle physics. Also note that the sexualization and overemphasis of both genders didn't really begin until games went 3D. The focus on "realism" in gaming has brought to the forefront the supposed fantasy of the everyman: to be a tough, grizzled, manly man with a Jessica Rabbit clone on your arm.

Opposite end of the spectrum in modern day gaming wouild probably be the Ratchet & Clank series. Beautiful and imaginative worlds, characters, and weapons with the right level of comedy. The love interests in those games are mostly directed toward the hero, not the person controlling him, and the hero himself is a short, fuzzy guy with a big wrench(yes I know he's a Lombax).

I guess the point I'm trying to make is that if we didn't focus on "realistic" games, or even games starring humans, there'd be less of a need to go with the buxom babes and badass Marines.

BlueInkAlchemist:

AngloDoom:

The parts above are the parts I've seen in every single one of these posts ever since I joined the Escapist. These topics come out once a month or, if the flavour of the week is feminism, a lot more.

The parts in bold are the parts I find patronising to women in general. Women do not need a 'call to arms' and, if I was a woman, I think having someone step in an tell me, basically, 'don't let men bully you', I'd be a little bit insulted.

But hey, I'm a middle-class white-guy, so what do I know?

I won't pretend I'm the first person to say these things, and I'm pretty sure they've been said better by others. But I just get pissed off and feel I need to speak up on behalf of people who have a functioning frontal lobe when I see something like this:

Images like that are only jokes.
I do not mind them personally.
What I do mind however is when people are genuinly being sexist or looking down on us.

Harmondale2:
Are male characters in games not rediculiously handsome and hollywood beautiful too creating an unrealistic standard of beauty for us to aspire too???? How come you never see threads about people in video games being unrealisticlly beautiful, yadda yadda?

Because society is a master of brainwashing.

RE: the call of duty box art above, I just showed that to my female housemate, who is also a gamer. She damn near wet herself laughing. Personally I don't see any harm in the sexes poking fun at each other.

BluenetteDiviner:
to be perfectly honest, i don't really mind the skimpily dressed women in gaming. It gives me something else to look at ;P. But I wouldn't object to some properly dressed female game characters either.

Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying girls in games can't be sexy. I just think that, for my money, I should get some depth to a character regardless of what he or she is wearing. If I just wanted to ogle rendered glistening girl-parts I have Google Image Search with the filters turned off. ;)

BluenetteDiviner:
And I do get a little stick for being a female gamer, everybody seems to think that a female gamer is some fat chick who never leaves the house and couldn't attract a flea from a dog, or as you said, just play really not very exciting games like cooking mama. :/

That's just the sort of stereotype I'd love to dispel. I know I have about as much chance of doing that as becoming King of Londinium and wearing a shiny hat, but I'll do what I can anyway, dammit.

happy_turtle:
RE: the call of duty box art above, I just showed that to my female housemate, who is also a gamer. She damn near wet herself laughing. Personally I don't see any harm in the sexes poking fun at each other.

Poking fun is one thing, telling women where their place should be with a completely straight face is quite another, and I've seen it used for that.

Maybe I'm just a crotchety old man before my time.

Scribjerky:
I hate it when this happens. Drives me nuts. The answer is always no. Always. Yet they keep asking, like if they're persistent it's going to change, when it reality all it gets them is a report.

God, I can identify. The problem is when you're being sexually harassed and do go on to report it rarely is anything actually done about it. If you politely ask them to leave you alone they'll spew forth a torrent of abuse.

When I play MMORPGs these days I play as a male character and am generally left alone. I never use my microphone on XBox LIVE either, but every now and then I'll get a message asking me to cyber/send pictures because they've looked at my profile and seen that my name is Lucy.

There are just some games where the main characters are obviously meant to be sex symbols and this can happen with male and female characters, though the more popular idea is that "only pervert-men want sexy characters" (whilst all of the "bad-boy" panty-moistening Snake Plisken characters stroll on by like everyone's blind).

I think we good writing, you won't notice sexuality, just like you don't focus so much on a woman's body if she's an amazingly intresting person and not an airhead.
I'm not picking on women when I say that, I've met airhead males, too.
A lot of them, actually...

BlueInkAlchemist:
snip

Was there even any doubt what so ever that DoA:VB was for anything but seeing bouncy virtual tits. Seriously though did anyone actually take this game seriously at all or any of its incarnations?

OT: How has anyone seen Lara Croft as serious. She is a complete and utter greedy harlot that is only interested in money. Although this was made a lot more evident in movies than games in my opinion. How could people not see is there like that solely for eye candy. The size of those things. I don't see why you can't use them as a melee weapon.

As a side note I don't think all girls play casual games like Cooking Mama and etc. Any real gamer knows they all play MMORPGs(joke). Most female gamers I have met and I know they are because I have heard them on TS or they have a damn feminine voice were from MMOs.

One thing that does annoy me about any gamer is one that feels the need to broadcast their race/sex/religion/beliefs/etc. Why would you do this? If we are all supposed to be equal and all that jazz why does it matter what the above are and why do you feel the need to broadcast it everyone. I feel these people are as much to blame as the people doing the harassing.

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