Over the course of the last few weeks there has been a lot of controversy surrounding the portrayal of women in games. Whilst this issue has been around for years now it has recently come back into the spotlight thanks to Ken Levine's Bioshock Infinite and its character Elizabeth.
It doesn't take long to notice that she is curvy and sports a rather low cut top but Levine says that he is disappointed that people focus on this and not the story of the game, stating that the size of her chest is "something I've barely thought about." Levine doesn’t have a reputation for being a liar and so his claims that he is unconcerned with her chest size are believable, whether or not certain other big wigs within the company had a say in it we can’t know for sure but it would be foolish to deny that sex sells. Sex sells games, sex sells films, sex sells music, if you watch the adverts on TV then you’ll discover that sex can sell just about everything, from coffee to drinking sensibly.
Focus on the eyes, not the chest.
I don’t doubt that women are portrayed in a certain sexist way in games. Of course they are, it’s a business and developers and publishers need games to sell. What bothers me is that gaming gets more negative press for it than any other form of media. If there is a woman on TV who is obviously being used for their sex appeal then there is virtually no controversy. If however a woman in a game is given a low cut top then we are accused of being little more than the pervy basement dwelling geeks of the world that your parents warned you about . No one can really try and argue that Ken Levine is a pervy basement dweller can they? He is in fact highly intelligent, articulate and creative as indeed are many other revered game developers. Also TV shows such as the X-Factor and Strictly Come Dancing often show off more of their female contestants than is necessary and this can often make the news but there is never an argument over the morality of such a decision, nor is there ever a feminist claiming that this is sexist or a creator of these shows defending the choice of outfit on the front page. Compare to this to a gaming website such as IGN however and you’ll see that the top story is about sexism because for some reason we more than anyone else need to defend ourselves.
I agree that sexism is bad and yes I do think women should be portrayed as people and not as objects but that isn’t what this post is about, this is about the fact that gamers, be they world renowned developers or teenagers sat in their rooms, are stereotyped as sleazy, leering animals who see women as nothing more than a commodity. If people want to criticise gaming for its portrayal of women then they need to do it for all forms of media, otherwise what can you hope to accomplish other than sheer hypocrisy? Forcing one group to discuss sexism will come and go, forcing everyone to face up to the fact that sex sells may actually get something done. So please, leave us in peace, we’re not sexist, and we don’t portray all women as objects and, before you point fingers at us, look at what you watch, what you listen to and what you read about and realise that you’re just as bad as we are.