Western vs Eastern: Sexism and Hypocrisy
Editor's Note: Here's a great dissection of the recent sexism controversy surrounding Killer is Dead, but I need to issue a correction to the following sentence "The same exact thing happens in God of War where you can have sex with women near the start of every level and that a lot of the female character are completely topless. Why is having sex with three women at once", it should be noted there is essentially ONE sex scene per installment of God of War and it is only in GoW II that you have sex with multiple partners. I also added a header image.
Eastern vs Western. It’s a common discussion amongst video-games these days. A lot of gamers do not like the Eastern market of video-games as much as they tend to stick to a specific art style, direction, and way of story-telling that Western style games do not. A prime example of this would be how each culture dictates their RPGs. Japanese RPGs are typically turn based games with an anime-style influence (there are exceptions, of course) that have a cliché cast of characters such as the aggressive tom-boy, the pretty boy, the silly hyper girl, and some character who is usually flirty – either male of female. The common complaint is that the men are very feminine looking and the girls are sometimes too silly and can be annoying. Not to mention the whole “Emo-Hair/Personality” critique.
Western RPGs on the other hand are usually a lot more action based. They prefer having vast worlds to explore, with tons of nifty weapons and skill-trees to customize your character, and large-scale boss battles. In these games the males are usually depicted as massive, beefy battle tanks while the women are scantily clad amazons who somehow get more defense boosts by wearing chainmail bikinis over full fledged armor. These games focus a lot on player choice to dictate how the game goes.
To each their own. I, honestly, enjoy both Western and Eastern games. Japanese games tend to give me that quirkiness, craziness that I love so much while Western games provide me with a feeling of being some kind of hard-core badass. It’s a win win.
However, there has been something that I noticed when it comes to these two specific styles of game development and that is how critics and journalists treat these games. It has become more and more apparent that these critics have been judging the Japanese games a little harsher than the Eastern counterparts – especially when it comes to sex.
Allow me to explain. Earlier this month Suda 51 released his newest game, Killer Is Dead – a psychedelic action game where the main character has the chance to upgrade his cyborg arm by sleeping with women he picks up at a bar. To sleep with these women, he must sneak glances at their cleavage, crotch, and legs. If the character has a special pair of sunglasses, he can actually see their underwear and figure out their likes and dislikes in the hopes of picking them up.
Now this little side-game (optional, by the way), has garnered a crazy ton amount of controversy in the reviewing community. Many critics have declared the game sexist, obscene, and disgusting because of this optional side-question. Some have gone so far as to calling the entire CULTURE sexist.
However, I have recently noticed that some of these same reviewers and gaming websites have never really found issue with games such as Grand Theft Auto 5, God of War, Mass Effect (although FOX news sure made a huge stink about it), or Saints Row for their portrayal of women.
Here is a quote from one Videogamer.com
I would like to point out there is no nudity. You aren't staring directly into a woman's vagina, only her crotch.
Here’s the problem I see. In Killer is Dead, you never see the women naked. Only stripped to their underwear. The game cuts out before any sex really starts also so you don’t see anything. However, GTA V and God of War shows full frontal nudity, involves sex mini games with these women, and even lets you murder the prostitutes after you bang them. Hell, if you google GTA V stripper, there are entire tutorials on how to have sex with girls, get oral sex, and so on.
Mass Effect has sex that reveals a bit more nudity that Killer is Dead, while Saints Row has you rescuing whole boat-loads of whores and strippers for the sole purpose of pimping them.
Let's take a quote from one article about KILLER IS DEAD.
Okay, so there is a point to be made, but really what's the problem? The same exact thing happens in God of War where you can have sex with women near the start of every level and that a lot of the female character are completely topless. Why is having sex with three women at once (who show frontal nudity and have you actually mash buttons to have sex with them) okay but not this?
Hell, I can go as far as bringing up the whole “Metroid Other M is sexist” just because Samus takes orders from a superior officer *Gasp* when no one seems to care if a Western female protagonist needs to take orders from a guy. So, what’s the problem here? Why is it okay to show full frontal nudity in Western games but if a Japanese game shows a woman in undies or in a cheerleader outfit, it is not okay? I have to wonder what really the difference here is.
Could it be due to Japan’s history of sexual dating simulators that automatically puts a bad taste in people’s mouths when they see something remotely sexual in a Japanese video game? Or is it something else? Could the overall game be the cause for this? Meaning that if the game is mediocre (as many reviewers claim for Suda 51’s games – as an example), it is more likely to get the sexist label slapped onto it. It is much easier to get away with criticizing a so-so game than the AAA title of the month, right? I am assuming no website wants to be “That Guy” and bring up how lewd a game like GTA V can be (and is).
Are “great” games that come from big-budgeted studios and pay massive amounts of dollars for advertising immune to this claim by the gaming reviewing community? Thus meaning these lower-budget, niche, smaller titles are an easier target? IE “Don’t pick on the popular jock! Let’s target that geeky foreign kid instead!?” Or is truly because Japanese-made games are truly more demeaning towards women despite the full fledge nudity and sex games in some of the more popular AAA titles?
Tell me your thoughts, g1’s and let’s have a good ol’ discussion!
I disagree that full nudity is inherently worse than showing someone in underwear. Someone can be naked and treated more decently than a fully clothed person. Nudity does not equal bad or sexist. I think the way the dating sim in Killer is Dead is implemented is sexist and juvenile, but so are the other games you mentioned. I think you were spot on when you said that success makes games, or anything else for that matter, less prone to certain criticism. Many things will get over looked in games that people enjoy more. People will just let more things slide because the game is fun. This does not mean the Western games are any less sexist, just that people do not pay as much attention to it. Both regions could do a better job.
Ugh.. Another post about sexism in games.
Look, I don't care what games are "sexist" these days, because if you go looking for stuff like that, you'll inevitably find it.
Case in point; The missions in that game that require you to be a pervy voyeur? Completely optional. You could skip over each and every single one of them, and nothing would be lost in the process. And, if I'm remembering the review they posted on KiD a few days ago correctly, they highly recommend not doing them, because the weapons you get are kinda useless and unnecessary.
The sex minigame in God of War? Optional. Again, you could skip it if you wanted to. All you get from it are extra orbs-- which you don't really need.
Hookers in GTA? You can literally go the entire game without ever picking one up. Sure, there are side-missions where you might have to, but those SIDE-missions. Completely optional.
You literally have no reason to bitch about sexism when you can skip over it entirely. You have even less when you can skip it, but don't.
So, if anyone in the comments section here is the sort that goes looking for sexism just so they can bitch about how terribly misogynistic the gaming industry is, please leave this hobby behind. Take up stamp collecting, or wood carving.
Or better yet, try making your own game, the way you think games should be instead of just complaining. Hell, Sarkeesian is living proof that, no matter how ignorant (and obviously wrong) you are, no matter how inane and ridiculous your ideology, some fool out there will not only agree with you, but throw money at you for no good reason.
I say if they don't like it then choose something else to do because gaming isn't for you. cause if ficitional stuff begins to hurt your feelings that is supposed to be fun and you begin to worry about other stuff in game then don't buy it take it back switch it for another game and stop complaining.
You can like video games and still find some sexist elements. Finding something objectionable in an artistic work doesn't mean that you can't like other parts of it.
They can cry all they want, they're not gonna stop Japan from making those games, and the fans are still gonna buy them. Feminists have been overly annoying lately and I should probably stop there before I start saying bad things.
There's a joke about that but I don't want to say it. But you can probably figure out where it would have gone.
I wonder if anyone who sees sexism all the time in games would yell at a girl in public for dressing real slutty or in skimpy clothes and call them sexist and making women look bad. Cause I bet they would be too scared to even approach a girl like that or even talk to them. The Internet and games are the best/safest place for a person to cry about how things are assumed sexist cause of the ambiguity of the internet and its not like a game could actually defend themselves when accused of something.
Nice work Mazer. I really like how they focus on elective side missions when discussing a game. If it was required, that would be one thing, but since most of these sex quests aren't required to finish the game, gamers have the option to complete them.
The massive misconception & misuse of the word 'Sexism/Sexist' in the comments is outstanding! I think you can switch most of the words with 'Sexual-ism/Sexualization/Sexualize/Sexualized' and it will make more sense & be more fitting! *facepalm* -_-
I just think they're racist. BTW, this post made me want to play Killer Is Dead.
This is one of the best posts i've seen in a past few years for a while... From time to time I stopped reading and rely on all these reviews that big magazines normally do... Not to say names of course. But I feel feel somehow the 'journalists' of today are fearing (or payed) to not say the truth about a game... i mean what you -Mazer wrote here is reality. People tend to create stereotypes and they base their critics to bash on to someone which doesn't deserve it... games is art as well as cinema and paintings, and they have their viewpoints from the creator. Yes, Manga and anime (hentai often) are somewhat sexist, but in games, they normally express different things... Suda 51 always want to explore different aspects from Man and Women likes... Lollipop Chainsaw and Shadows of the damned as opposite examples... But they show some creativity and brilliant develovment of the characters... As a counterpart of the normal GTA or Saints row game that doesn't explain or shows on an explicit view many sex scenes without any symbolism, and of course, don't forget to kill your hooker or girl after having sex with her. In other words, they don't explain the reasons why people do these things, they just simply do it... Oh man, I prefer to judge the game by myself only almost all the time since a loooong time ago...
I think many have a problem with the moe art style. Sexualization of young characters is kind of a no no in the West.
It really makes me wonder if Western critics have a similar bias towards Western games over Eastern games.
What do Japanese critics think of GTAV and it's sex minigames? That's what I'd like to know.
God I love this community
I see what you mean, but I think its because those things are very normal. If the game was more subtle about it all, you just casually talk to them and then there is a crappy no real love scene (ala GTAV) then there would be little controversy. But instead, they have this bizarre crazy staring at girls thing. It is creepy as well as perverse, which are different. While Kratos and GTAV are perverse they really aren't creepy at all (although they are obviously morally objectionable).
Getting real sick of this bullshit.
They are video games. The devs a presumable mostly guys who like girls. The target audience is guys who like girls.
So they put attractive females in the game. This is not sexist. If anything its the complete opposite.
Devs just want to make a fun video they and other people enjoy. People just want to have fun playing video games.
But all these 'journalists' do is talk bullshit clickbait and try and police what a dev can and cant do. Which ultimately will just give devs zero freedom and end up with generic games were nobody innovates.
Its incredible how people actually think Sarkeesians video game idea was good, or that she didnt just do all this for money.
Do you expect the reviewers who will have a problem with the sexualized content of the GTA series to play and review part of the series? If you know you're going to be offended by a game it doesn't make any sense to play it, especially when your job is to provide a review based on the content of the game informing its intended audience whether the game is worth playing or not. KiD had nothing to do with objectifying women except for the minigame meant to give the character an upgrade. The fact that it was basically a date where you ogle the woman (possibly with x-ray sunglasses to see through her clothes) until she feels pressured to sleep with you also creates a different atmosphere from the over the top stereotypes, sexuality, and violence of GTA.
It's called Hentai.
I think he is referring to the massive amount of crying "sexism" in games by the media as of late.