Game girls who would be women
Anyone who has ever played a video game knows women almost uniformly take a back seat in the plot and character design.
Go Make Me A Sandwich is the blog of a Canadian woman (would that be ‘Canadienne?’) about games and the women who are frequently portrayed within them in an unfriendly light. By which I mean degraded and treated mostly as eye-candy.
We both know she has a point.
“But wait!” you might wail. “Most gamers are men! Aren’t the developers just catering to their target audience?”
Absolutely, they are pandering to their core buyer. But does that mean they cannot make at least believable female characters?
For comparison, let’s look at two of the largest media conglomerations out there: Hollywood and the NFL. The NFL is all about being the “guy’s game,” complete with beer adverts and lots of shots of the scantily-clad cheerleaders bouncing around. They certainly know their audience.
Then look at Hollywood. Way back in the Long Long Ago, Hollywood was all about sexism, with a woman onscreen to be either a) kidnapped b) slapped or c) spoken down to. Hollywood has become a little better, obviously, since the ’60’s.
While the male-targeted films are certainly out there, filled with plenty of eye candy, there are dozens more films with rich, deep plots often (perhaps more often) featuring strong heroine leads. And if anyone knows how to make money, it’s Hollywood.
With these two examples, it’s easy to see who the gaming industry has thrown its hat in with – it has firmly entrenched itself in the entertainment business rather than the business of making great stories.
“But wait!” you again persist, “Most games are made in Japan, a strongly patriarchal society. Don’t put down my favorite culture!”
Too bad. I know the Japanese love their women either big-floppy breasted and wearing glasses or pre-teen and whining. That’s no excuse for knowingly making games that not only denigrate women, but outright treat them as noting more than something to sell.
Take every single JRPG out there, especially the Korean browser games. Character A is a big, strong man, wearing full body armor. This guy is a bad ass and commands respect. Character B is a petite, thin woman, wearing a bikini with a few pieces of metal strapped on if she’s lucky. She has a sword and shield too, don’t forget. Both characters have to conquer the world.
If this were the real world, which would you chose? Who’s more likely to survive?
If you’re interested, head on over to Go Make Me A Sandwich and check it out. It’s full of interesting information that will definitely make you think next time you see that battle-axe-wielding space ninja in a thong.
As an interesting comparison of a woman in games actually being a positive role model, check this story out. It tells of a woman dealing with her own personal issues who turns to none other than Samus Aran of Metroid to turn her life around. Not only is this a great story, it also shows that a female character who spends 99 percent of her time fully clothed can still be effective.