Saturday, 25 February 2012

Look at This Eye Candy!

When you think of your favourite gaming characters I'd be willing to bet that the vast majority of them are male. If you try and construct a list of good games that have you playing (by default, not by choice) as a female character I'd be willing to bet you think of Metroid and Tomb Raider right off the bat and then struggle to think of many more. It seems to me that there are some big problems here. For starters it potentially excludes a serious slice of potential audience. Secondly it doesn't help the image that many have of gaming being a male past time and finally the characters you can play as are rarely ordinary women, they're usually little more than a pair of oversized breasts and an arse of a goddess strapped onto a personality deprived mannequin struggling to get your attention. Is this a good thing? Surely all this achieves is a negative image for gamers and the industry as a whole, exclusion of many potential gamers and quite often one dimensional stories thanks to the player almost always being a strong and courageous man who saves the day in some way or another.

If more games were to feature female player characters the industry as a whole would benefit. For starters it would be easier for women and girls to relate to gaming, I'm aware that there are many female gamers but they are vastly outnumbered by male gamers and the audience of gaming would widen exponentially if there were to be more women for you to play as. Notice that I say women, not objects.

This isn't to say that games like Tomb Raider aren't good, they are good, it's just that there are too few games that do it and the few that do, such as Tomb Raider, often just use their characters as sex symbols to sell the game to men. If your game is good you shouldn't need a large chest to sell it. This is somewhere where Naughty Dog's example could and should be followed. Though the main player characters of their games are men they have truly nailed how best to depict a good and strong woman without having to sex her up. For those of you who haven't played the Uncharted series I'm talking about a character called Elena. Though you don't play as her she does play a big role in the story and is a key figure on the games and although she is by no means ugly there is never any attempt at using her as a sex symbol. She is a clearly defined and likeable character, not an object.

Naughty Dog's success doesn't end here however, with next years The Last of Us they will likely have yet another successful female character, one who they can't sex up because she is only a child and one who will need to be a strong and memorable character because she is supposed to be key to the entire game. I'd also like to point out, as a terrible indictment of video gaming, that the actress doing her voice, when speaking about it in an interview, said that she was glad to be playing a character and not just "tits and ass".

I have my doubts that women will be represented in a decent way in games anytime soon, the games coming out this year are all about the men so far, even Tomb Raider, allegedly a rebirth for the series, hasn't completely dropped the habit of using women as objects. Perhaps next year or the year after might allow developers the time to introduce some more women into the mix, I would certainly welcome it and I'd bet that there's a few million others out there who would too.

7 comments:

  1. Please look over your use of punctuation.

    You seem to be using commas when you should be using full stops, and not using anything at points when there should be commas.

    Also, a lot of it could be written better. "Perhaps next year or the year after might allow developers the time..." would sound better as "Hopefully in the coming years, developers will introduce more female characters..."

    "This isn't to say that games like Tomb Raider aren't good, they are good, it's just that there are too few games that do it and the few that do, such as Tomb Raider, often just use their characters as sex symbols to sell the game to men" - too many commas. This would be better as: "This isn't to say that games such as Tomb Raider aren't good. They are. However, there are too few games that do it, and the few that do often use their characters as sex symbols."

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    1. Thanks for the feedback. Are you the same guy who commented on my WoW post?

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  2. As long as you remain anonymous, your opinion is not really relevant. Giving a few pointers is fair, however this comment is harsh and patronizing, especially from someone who will not name themselves.
    Actually requesting that he "look over" his use of punctuation implies that it offends you, if so perhaps you should stop reading his blog?
    Having read the blog post, I understand exactly what was being put forward, and an authors choice of wording is no reason for such a degrading comment. Amy MacTavish

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  3. Agree Amy 100%. This is a great blog. Keep on the way you are going Rob.

    Eddie Mitchell

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  4. I do agree with what you have said Rob. I have been a female gamer for 25years. My father used the computer as a babysitter to entertain me when I was 2 years old! Even to this day, I've always pick the ugly, moody and serious looking characters instead of the 'bloodelf' from WoW or the humans in SW:TOR (Not that they're overly sexy but in comparision to the other classes) - I like to lead teams in warfare(PvP) and I don't feel I get taken seriously if I play a 'sexy' toon. Saying that, nearly most 'real' female gamers (The reason I said real, are the ones that take it seriously) I have met, play either male or kickass-looking female toons.
    SW:TOR was under alot of pressure by the female players to create less sexy looking characters (Check their forum) so that the game wasn't 'sexist'. So far they have responded to the demands - whether they were originally going to do this or not is still debatable.

    I would very much welcome original kick ass female characters.... or maybe some more of the original Duke Nukem, where you can blow up the..... Erm. Yea. Coughs.

    'N'

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  5. Good post. There is a much larger variety of male bodies than female bodies in games. Generally there is one type of female body used (slim, small waist, large breasts, big butt). There is nothing wrong with this shape but other shapes should be represented as well, not focusing on one shape or another.

    It's true aross most media, this one shape being used too much. Film, TV, ads etc. Fortunately there has been a gradual rising awareness in this problem and very slowly changes are happening here and there, films where the female lead does not conform to this regulary used body shape, few female characters in games, tv shows introducing other shaped women. This is encouraging and as a female gamer, I was happy to read your article on this. For things to change, people need to get others thinking about the problem.

    How nice it would be to see the wide variety of body shapes represented in these mediums, proportionate to the variety you see in the real world. I notice this problem in about 99% of video games, no wonder little girls grow up thinking "I should look like that, shouldn't I?"

    I'd just like to add, although there are more male than female gamers, the bridge between the numbers is not as far as you might think. Studys show that the ratio is around 40/60 (women/men) who play video games. Most of my female friends are into gaming themselves. What you say is true though, I feel more females would feel interesting in gaming if it wasn't so driven towards a male market.

    S

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    1. Just to edit on my post above, where it says "..tv shows introducing other shaped women", should read "..all shaped women". It was my intention to mean other from the shape which is used to much in media, and not to be taken as 'other' in a sense of 'different from the norm'. Variety in shapes is the norm and this should be embraced over all media.

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