BlueBlur91 Rants: Sexism in Video Games
Are video games, in general, offensive towards the fairer sex? Are they unfair to girls? Or is sexism a two way street, where you can pinpoint a tiny detail about ANY game and brand it "sexist"?
I do not, in any sense, condone any sort of blatant, offensive sexism, in any form.
I also acknowledge the fact that there ARE games out there that portray women as nothing more than a mere object of desire and appeal, as you will find out if you read on.
Please enjoy the read.
If you're a gamer, and let's face it, you probably are if you're browsing this site, then you know exactly what games are all about. While all of them have different setting, objectives and content, I think it's fair to say that games are all about displaying and expressing creativity. Experiencing a story, whether it's one you determine yourself, or one where you play a role of a character. Then there are games that don't have a story at all. These games tend to focus more on giving you an experience through gameplay and visuals. Many games do all of the above.
But do games mold and shape you as a person? Do they change your view of things, such as the value of life and the sentence for committing crime?
As with media, they would have you believe that video games not only turn children violent but undermine, offend and bully women. Video Games are an easy target for this controversy because the market happens to be dominated by males, and thus, creators tend to mold female characters to fit the male playing the game. Whether that is putting her in skimpy clothing or giving her a perfect figure, or face, seems to be offensive on all accounts. But do women really have the right to cry fowl and label the entire industry as sexist?
Sexism towards women in games
I actually don't think video games are unfair to women. I think women are unfair to video games. And I think this for various reasons, mainly because of the points feminist raise. There are loads of vulgar games out there, but feminist only attack petty things about games that, in reality, have no sexism in it. Things like Lara Croft's bust, for example.
Don't know Lara Croft? Let me give you a quick rundown.
Lara Croft is a hyper-athletic, super-intelligent archeologist, who through all of her adventures treks into extremely dangerous places, riddled with traps, wild predators, and hired goons out to put a bullet in her head.
Armed with two thigh-strapped pistols, Lara deals with the latter two problems. The rest are completely up to her physical abilities to climb ledges, solve puzzles and performing step-by-step acrobatic maneuvers flawlessly in order to save herself from falling to her death.
Yet with that portfolio, media labels this character as sexist. Degrading to women. Why? Because during Lara's original development, a graphic designer "accidentally" miscalculated the values of the polygons forming her bust, giving her a bigger chest than the character's owner and creator had planned. The creators of the game decided to keep this alteration, ignoring the owner's plea to please keep her original palette. The creator of Lara Croft has since then left Eidos, disgraced by the way the company treated his creation.
Very recently Lara has stirred a bit more controversy regarding an attempted grope/rape scene that supposedly happens in her newest game. The game developers have defended this by stating that "It gives the player a sense of distress towards Lara, and makes them feel more protective of her, and want to keep her out of danger."
Is it fair of Lara's supposed owners to treat a character like this? Absolutely not. Is it fair that they advertised one of her earliest games with her in the shower and having Playboy write an article about her? Absolutely not. Because Lara Croft is a cool enough character to be able to succeed on her own merit. She doesn't need sex to be sold to males as a sex symbol. We'd love the character even if she didn't have zeppelins strapped to her.
This is the wrong game to attack when it comes to sexism. There are games that are actually crude, actually MADE for the simple reason of giving men something to look at. Tomb Raider is the exact opposite of unfairness towards women.
It's like when people attack Metroid because of Zero Suit Samus.
On the left; The Samus everyone knows. The Samus we all loved and played as years and years ago. Most, if not all of us, always thought Samus was a man. Why? Because Samus never took off her suit throughout the series UNLESS you finished the game under extreme conditions, like finishing the game in under an hour. If you finished the very first game in three to five hours, you were treated to Samus taking off her helmet and revealing her long hair.
But some people never knew Samus was a woman until Smash Brothers: Brawl, funnily enough. This is mainly because of the young age of gamers, who never got the chance to play the Metroid games on the old Nintendo consoles.
Many people claim Samus' zero suit to be borderline nudity. Her second-skin outfit hugs her skin very tightly, revealing a lot of her physical attributes. So what, would you rather have her wear nothing? Or underwear perhaps, like she did in the first ever Metroid? What do YOU suggest a woman should wear under her hyper-evolutionary bounty-hunter space suit?
What's my opinion on this? Well, if you judge a character by what they wear under their main clothes/armor, wouldn't all games just be porn?
Another point feminists bring up while discussing games is that they give men an unrealistic and unfair view of what women SHOULD look like. Here's the deal, we know video games are fake. This is also why no one, ever, goes outside and copies what they did on Grand Theft Auto. People are able to play a game with "hot looking" women in it and come out of it exactly the same. No one ever gets a girlfriend and thinks to himself "I wish my girlfriend had skin consisting of millions of tiny blocks and triangle-boobs".
Furthermore, so what? WOMEN give men an unrealistic view of what they look like! Make-up, millions of types of bras that make your chest look different, hair extensions, corsets, the list goes on!
And if video games treat women unfairly and give people the wrong view of women, you know who is worse off?
If there is anything more exaggerated than women, it is men. That´s right. Video games are not "attacking" women or "labeling them as objects of desire and nothing more". Just because you look at a character and she has a good figure and a pretty face, does not mean the game is automatically sexist.
Just because the game includes a princess in distress does, in fact, not make it offensive to women.
"Peach is an extremely sexist character! She is always in trouble and always cries for help! She portrays women as nothing but a pretty face to be chased after!"
Oh. Okay. So in that case ...;
"Mario is an extremely sexist character. He is short and fat, and yet is highly athletic. He spends all his time helping his girlfriend, and let's be fair, they wouldn't have it any other way. He portrays men as fat, unattractive weightlifters who just happen to be a total doormat when it comes to his significant other's needs."
Don't take something and try and twist it into something it's not. Yes, Peach and Zelda are often damsels in distress. There are A LOT of cases of males being in distress, and often, gutless whimps. Luigi, in his OWN GAME, spends THE ENTIRETY OF IT crying out for his brother and looking for him because he is PETRIFIED! Otacon in the Metal Gear Solid series is caught PISSING HIMSELF IN FEAR! VISUALLY AND LITERALLY CREATING A PUDDLE OF URINE BY HIS FEET!
Where am I going with all this? Well, it's not fair to label the video game industry as sexist. It's just not. It is also not fair to take a tiny content of a game and try and spin it into something that MIGHT POSSIBLY MAYBE IN THE RIGHT PERSPECTIVE BE SOMETHING MILDLY SEXIST.
Yes, there are games that ACTUALLY ARE SEXIST and actually ARE VULGAR!. But judge THEM on their OWN MERIT! Don't start looking at all games through feminist glasses just because some game somewhere just happened to be a walking bust with a bum. Most men dislike the things that you find unfair to women just as much as you do.
Many men don't like the fact that female characters seem to get bikini armour when their male counterpart doesn't. Many men don't like it when their games seem to be ruined by a squealing, helpless, crying girl that also just so happens to have the hots for the protagonist. Just because a woman has a pretty face and a good figure, and just because a man is super handsome and buff, does NOT make the game sexist! Don't be so close minded!
Thanks for reading, I appreciate any feedback. And please, don't take any offense to anything I've written. Nothing I've said is an attack on anyone. For all I know, you are awesome! :)