Sign in to follow this  
Tensei

Videogames and Sexism

Recommended Posts

I still abhor the zero suit

I'm a huge fan of how it was used to extend / expand the story of Zero Mission. Cool beans -- why don't we see a similar scenario of how Master Chief was chosen to wear the armor in the first place? I'd also argue that the original GBA sprite does not sexualize her in the way that the 3D model created for Brawl did. It also managed to expand on Samus' character and backstory much more effectively than the entirety of Other M did.

Even _most_ of the ending pics (all but the single Zero Suit pic, which forms the basis for 3D ZSS) are much less sexualized than 3D portrayals of suitless Samus: http://metroid-database.com/mzm/endings.php

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great post Monobrow. I feel bad for not responding to the comments from Irish, especially since I asked a question directed at women. Sorry about that, I was too caught up in the argument. Also, I hope my comments about sexism towards males didn't imply that I'm ignoring the issues of female portrayal in games.

Monobrow, your post reminds me of how my sister, now 26 and soon getting married to a gamer, grew up playing video games with my brother and I, and her friend. The first gaming console we had was Super Nintendo, and it came free with Super Mario All-Stars. My first game memories are of Mario Bros. 3, we were all under ten years old at the time. Back in those days, I actually used to watch my brother and sister try to beat the levels. The first game I played was Super Mario World, awesome memories of playing it with my brother and sister. My sister's best friend at the time was also really into video games, she used to come over to our house and we would all play SNES. As we got older, we moved onto N64 and Playstation, also some great memories there. Then Gamecube, Xbox, and PS2. All three of us together. My parents never treated us differently based on our sex when it came to video games. I've grown up feeling that it's perfectly normal for girls to play games. Although my sis doesn't live with us anymore (actually she'll be staying with us for a while after she gets married this coming fall), my brother, sister, and I play video games whenever she comes home to visit. Nowadays we play PS3 and Xbox 360, though we sometimes play the classics. My sister plays all sorts of games as well. She is playing Skyrim right now, she has played Fallout, CoD zombies, Dragon Age, Minecraft, Mario Kart, just to name a few. She's lucky that she has fiance who's really in to gaming, she always has someone to talk to about games, and plus she has my brother and I. She always had people to talk about games when growing up as well.

You know, I haven't really thought much about sexism in video games because it's always been normal to me that girls play games. Of course I've noticed obvious things like women with absurdly large boobs and stupid outfits in games like Soul Calibur, Dead or Alive, and Ninja Gaiden, but other than that, I haven't given the portrayal of women in games much thought. My sister never really talked about it either, I'll ask her next time she calls. You brought up some excellent points Monobrow, especially about how you imagine yourself as a male when playing fps games, I think that's interesting. One of my characters in Skyrim is female, and I've sometimes found myself subconsciously imagining that I'm still playing a male. Until she takes damage, then I remember. I'm so used to playing as men, it's sort of ingrained into me. I also hate when people say girls don't like fps's because of their sex. Women enjoy those types of games just as much as men, my sister is quite good at them.

Thanks for talking about your gaming past, you've brought back some great memories of playing video games with my brother and sister.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can think of plenty of Western games that fit though. Mortal Kombat and Mass Effect are the first two that jump to mind. God of War, as well, is a big offender.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I find it interesting that a lot of the go-to examples of stupidly sexualized women are Japanese games. Whereas HL2 woman and Beyond Good and Evil woman are Western games. Maybe this says a lot more about Japan than the West?
Mortal Kombat and Mass Effect are the first two that jump to mind. God of War, as well, is a big offender.

^These games. Also, a lot of Western fantasy rpg's have women in ridiculous bikini armor. Don't forget that sexualized women isn't the only problem, the desperate lack of strong female leads is also an issue. Many Western games suffer from this. Of course, the standard male lead often leaves much to be desired.

shephard never really struck me as "white". seemed like some sort of euro-spanish-homogenous fruitbar.

My Shephard is black.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I find it interesting that a lot of the go-to examples of stupidly sexualized women are Japanese games. Whereas HL2 woman and Beyond Good and Evil woman are Western games. Maybe this says a lot more about Japan than the West?

Japanese games tend to objectify characters of both genders. It's just that female-catering male characters are sometimes (but not always) very subtle. Even the most blatant offenders can be subtle compared to their female counterparts.

I present to you THE most blatant example I can think of:

Shizumaru_ss6.jpg

Hisame Shizumaru from the Samurai Spirits series. A shota-flavored pretty boy, polite and kind, BUT suffering from amnesia as well as some kind of rampaging evil persona (fangirls love pretty boys with psychological baggage). His ideal type is described as "an older sister who could take care of him" (i.e. the age group of females to which he's designed to appeal). One of his taking-hit-screams is this incredibly moany, uke-tastic "yamete." Seriously, the first time I heard him say it, I lol'd so hard. But if you just look at his character design, nothing really screams HI I EXIST TO PANDER TO FANGIRLS. Compare to Iroha, a female character from the same series.

I think part of the reason for this subtlety is that skin-tight garments and/or excessive skin baring of male characters don't really appeal to the majority of females. I know that's certainly true for myself. Think of the male characters with the biggest female followings -- Link, Sephiroth, etc. None of them walks around in a skin-tight body suit or a thong speedo.

Raiden from MGS series is an interesting case. He wears a tight body suit, and he does have a decent (not huge) sized female following, but his character design was produced/directed by a bisexual male. The following scantily clad males were also designed by a bisexual male artist:

note them exposed cheeks

dude needs new pants

EDIT: I'm not claiming Shizumaru is less objectified than Iroha. Just saying the objectification is harder to see at first glance.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ultimately, it all goes back to the argument that the media caters to its audience and sex sells, therefore you're probably going to see sexualized female characters in videogames. Does the media as an aggregate have a social responsibility to deal with this issue? I don't believe so in the least. The media can only respond to what the general public wants, otherwise they wouldn't be making money. When people stop caring about sex, the media will as well.

Also Monobrow, I would think that if a certain group of people care enough about something to give it some thought, then they wouldn't mind voicing their opinion on said issue. If the girls Darangen or I or anyone else for that matter speak with don't feel like voicing that they felt that over sexualization kept them away from games for example, then they must not have cared much about it unless they did, in which case they missed their shot, and Darangen can't be blamed for what he came back with.

It also isn't like he's saying "well that myth's debunked, sexism doesn't exist in gaming and the gaming industry!" It sure as hell does, and to the best of my knowledge, I don't think anyone posting here is implying otherwise. What most of us are questioning(save for that little sidebar) is what constitutes sexism in videogames, which is where people are getting cross-eyed. My original point is that on an aesthetic level, I don't mind seeing dudes and ladies wearing improbable stuff if it's appealing. To me it makes the character more interesting and provocative. Naturally there are going to be some blatant offenders such as Ivy and Rachel, but is that really making a statement about what YOU should look like? Just because some internet degenerate makes some nasty comment towards you, it's obviously because of the media and we need to eliminate it entirely?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Ultimately, it all goes back to the argument that the media caters to its audience and sex sells, therefore you're probably going to see sexualized female characters in videogames. Does the media as an aggregate have a social responsibility to deal with this issue? I don't believe so in the least. The media can only respond to what the general public wants, otherwise they wouldn't be making money. When people stop caring about sex, the media will as well.

Also Monobrow, I would think that if a certain group of people care enough about something to give it some thought, then they wouldn't mind voicing their opinion on said issue. If the girls Darangen or I or anyone else for that matter speak with don't feel like voicing that they felt that over sexualization kept them away from games for example, then they must not have cared much about it unless they did, in which case they missed their shot, and Darangen can't be blamed for what he came back with.

It also isn't like he's saying "well that myth's debunked, sexism doesn't exist in gaming and the gaming industry!" It sure as hell does, and to the best of my knowledge, I don't think anyone posting here is implying otherwise. What most of us are questioning(save for that little sidebar) is what constitutes sexism in videogames, which is where people are getting cross-eyed. My original point is that on an aesthetic level, I don't mind seeing dudes and ladies wearing improbable stuff if it's appealing. To me it makes the character more interesting and provocative. Naturally there are going to be some blatant offenders such as Ivy and Rachel, but is that really making a statement about what YOU should look like? Just because some internet degenerate makes some nasty comment towards you, it's obviously because of the media and we need to eliminate it entirely?

I agree with this man.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There seems to be a lot of agreement that there is sexism in games and a lack of decent female characters. If this is truly important to you guys, why not do something about it?

Why not make a game? To keep goals realistic, it could be a casual flash game. Tensei, since you started this discussion and seem to be passionate about it, I think you should lead the project. The proceeds could be donated to a worthy charity that helps women in developing countries like: http://www.charitywater.org/whywater/ (Watch the video.)

I know you guys have the free time, otherwise you wouldn't have so many posts in this thread. If you lack the coding skills, you can pick them up quickly. I can direct you to some books that will teach you all the skills you need to know for a simple game very quickly. I can provide the storyline and dialogue -- I have a short story with a female protagonist that would adapt very well to a space shooter. This community is full of talented artists. Monobrow, for example (and/or others also passionate about this issue) could provide the art. We have many talented musicians in this community and could collab on a soundtrack.

So what do you think guys, is this something you're passionate about enough to do something? You'd be helping women in developing nations, possibly even saving some of their lives, and simultaneously making a positive contribution to gender equality in the gaming community.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Prophecy, that sounds pretty cool, but right now I actually have a ton of things on my plate and should NOT be posting this stuff, but I am having an "off" day. Maybe later though, when some things start coming together.

Does the media as an aggregate have a social responsibility to deal with this issue? I don't believe so in the least. The media can only respond to what the general public wants, otherwise they wouldn't be making money. When people stop caring about sex, the media will as well.

So basically, the problem perpetuates itself, so you can't blame the company for exploiting it because if it's happening, then people must want it in the end, and you can't blame the companies for making money and therefore perpetuating it. I guess that works, but let's put this perspective to the test.

There was a time when corporations exploited a certain demographic of worker to produce goods. This demographic fit very easily into the mold of making good products, they had a ton of energy, and neither questioned authority or minded bad working conditions. Oh yeah and they also happened to be children. I guess we would do well with children making our shoes for us, I mean they are a demographic that was basically sitting around, ready to work, however there's something that stopped us from doing that. We realized that it's unfair to make children work, outlawed child labor, and prevented the industry from exploiting them, why? Because maybe it's society's responsibility to strive to stop exploitation, even if it sells, even if some children liked working. The fact that it is selling or is profitable doesn't make it right, or even remotely justifiable. Did we stop buying shoes? No of course not, but we realized that how we got those shoes was bad news.

There is complaint, and a current debate right now, and people do have a problem with it, but that's not going to stop them from playing video games. Putting the responsibility on the consumer is like telling them to put out a fire when they live in the tundra and handing them gasoline. With that kind of attitude, it will never be fixed, and we will never progress, so how about instead, we hold companies that make trite shit and their defenders accountable, be open to observations, and keep discussing it?

Also Monobrow, I would think that if a certain group of people care enough about something to give it some thought, then they wouldn't mind voicing their opinion on said issue.

IMO this is blame the victim mentality.

Here's another example. There were some black people that didn't have a problem with being slaves. They were complacent with their place in society, and didn't speak up about it. They viewed that they were being taken care of as individuals, and maybe they had owners that were nice people. But I think most people agree that slavery is wrong regardless of what these people think, and we also can agree that they were just trying to live their lives within the scope of what they were presented with. If given the choice I am sure they would take not being slaves, but why talk about it when you're not given that choice or are made to feel uncomfortable if you speak up?

The problem with your example is that a lot of women don't even know they have been victimized in this way. It's about priorities. Obviously child labor and slavery have bigger impacts in the lives of people than the effects of video games on a woman, but that doesn't change the fact there might be something wrong in how they are presented to the point that they do not play something that on a primitive basis can be fun to ANYONE. Little girls right now are being exposed to all sorts of messages that tell them how to be. My niece for example, she is six years old, the other day she stated to me sarcastically "I'm HAWT and all I care about is being HAWT."... Where did she get that? Maybe it's an underlying message she got from somewhere, I found it amazing she said that, and for a six year-old, had the capability to say it in such a way as to mock basically the gist of what is presented to young females on what they must strive to be above all else.

As for video games, if you didn't get into it, for whatever reason, you're not going to miss it, or care when people discuss the problem. Some people are aware, others not so much, but the point is, it's not ideal to talk about it, to make a fuss about it, out of fear on how your peers see you, no matter how subconscious or small that fear is. It was the same at one time about slavery, child labor, women's suffrage, homosexuality, etc... Let's not even make this into a "thing" but talk about subconscious defense mechanisms within people, especially in social situations, safe discussion territory. AFAIK, Darangen didn't even mention any of these women were close friends. Why didn't he ask a close friend in a more intimate setting, or a sister, or even one of us here? I feel that his example was very much used to illustrate an inherent innaccuracy, but also fit my previous example on what it's like to be a woman presented with this scenario. I for sure disagree with him wholeheartedly, but I admit that in that situation, if he even presented my qualms in an even remotely skewed way that I perceived as would negatively impact me for speaking up, I may be less inclined to talk about it. I can also tell when someone asks a question for the purpose of hearing only what they want to hear too. I have a feeling that even though I have expounded on it much more than any other woman he probably talked to, the 9 women, in their innocent complacency, will inevitably invalidate to him what I have to say here.

I think we can all agree that there are things about society we don't like, but have had to accept. I understand there is unfairness to dudes as well for the same reasons, but from a different perspective. Women and men have certain pressures that we can all acknowledge, that don't seem at all good for them. What's worse, we seem to accept them readily. Why? Well there are ways to condition mice into wanting to be around cats as well. Women (and men too) are used to society dictating to them what they like, what they want out of life, etc. etc. They buy makeup because they are told to be prettier, they work-out and diet, in abusive cycles, because they don't want to be fat and unattractive. Negative reinforcements. They may act dramatic in certain destructive ways just because their parents, or television told them they are supposed to act this way. Just in the same way that people in general, make stupid financial decisions because of an ideal they were conditioned to believe in, over practicality. Math came up in this discussion. Women and math is NEW. Our partnership together is only NOW beginning, "smart women" and their roles in society. Women and education is also relatively new. That has changed somewhat, it's been shown to society that women do not want to be constrained within their role in society no more than men do. But give us some credit here, it has only been within this past century that women have had more options in their role in society, and they are slowly but surely branching out where they can. Women were given the right to vote in 1919. That's not even 100 years ago. Things do not change overnight, or even within a century. Progress is slow, but the point is, it's progress. It has not always been this way. I'm honestly surprised that you aren't seeming to take into account that this is brand new territory when it comes to sex and gender roles, that we are in right now for human beings. Video games are the tip of the iceberg, but they still speak volumes when we see 90% of characters as sex objects in various shapes or forms. As someone who has felt like a minority on the basis of my gender on numerous occasions, it is hard to be vocal when you feel you are on shaky ground for being so. So far in my lifetime alone, I can tell differences in perceptions of women that to me are drastically different compared to when I was born. But the point is, no one wants to rock the boat. So here I am, a woman, telling you that it's wrong, how it has affected me, and you're using an example of a bunch of girls in a social setting that I've been exposed to and have acknowledged, saying they have no problem, as if they are to blame when you're really only proving my point for me. Which is when you are oppressed, even in the slightest of ways, that means you are having trouble representing yourself. It shouldn't matter that we are women, it should only matter that there is a problem.

But as someone that has been a victim of this, I am stating to you that I have made a point all this time to resist this social focus that has been put upon me since I was a small child, and do what I want, even if it has been harder on me, even if in the grand scheme of things, this is a first world problem, it's still symptomatic of very real and disturbing problems in the perceptions of women around the world. And I think it's a human problem, to feel constrained by these kinds of rules, anyone that has had any problem in this way can tell you what it's like.

I like video games even though they do not seemed aimed towards me. And when this discussion has come up from time to time online, I've made it a point to speak up about it when I can. I've even found a way to bypass this subconsciously by viewing myself as a male in FPS setting. These women could care less about video games because they are not aimed towards them. But as we all know, people are individuals, what they care about differs drastically, and when we get to know them, interests and what people can and do get into, when they are given the chance or are willing to try, differs greatly from our "expectations" of them.

Get any woman talking about this subject where she feels comfortable, and has the ability to expound, she will tell you that she has a problem in some shape/form.

Lastly, women will only be told to buy video games when it is profitable, it's not considered as profitable right now because we were not conditioned to like them, but I guarantee that it will change, it's a huge and vastly untapped market. As social roles change, little girls are being exposed to video games in a different way than the generation before. Just like you were told to buy Power Wheels when you were a kid, when that's all you wanted. I was never told to buy Power Wheels. I was told to buy Barbie, and therefore will tell my children to buy Barbie, because I have fond memories of it. We have problems currently in society where there are boys that want to buy Barbie but their parents are forcing them to buy "male" toys.

It also isn't like he's saying "well that myth's debunked, sexism doesn't exist in gaming and the gaming industry!"

So what exactly is he saying then, because his example has to imply something.

My original point is that on an aesthetic level, I don't mind seeing dudes and ladies wearing improbable stuff if it's appealing. To me it makes the character more interesting and provocative. Naturally there are going to be some blatant offenders such as Ivy and Rachel, but is that really making a statement about what YOU should look like? Just because some internet degenerate makes some nasty comment towards you, it's obviously because of the media and we need to eliminate it entirely?

Nope, I never implied we need to get rid of it entirely, you're putting words into my mouth. I'm saying that it's a problem, it should be discussed, here's why and how it has affected me, and we should be both reasonable and truthful with each other instead of convoluted responses that imply fault in having a problem in the first place. :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Prophecy, that sounds pretty cool, but right now I actually have a ton of things on my plate and should NOT be posting this stuff, but I am having an "off" day. Maybe later though, when some things start coming together.

Yea, I figured you to be a fairly busy person. If you get the time, and the project does come together, I really think it would be great for you to be involved since this is an issue that has affected you personally.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you, Mono, for phrasing pretty much everything I wanted to say in a much better format.

Naturally there are going to be some blatant offenders such as Ivy and Rachel, but is that really making a statement about what YOU should look like? Just because some internet degenerate makes some nasty comment towards you, it's obviously because of the media and we need to eliminate it entirely?

The issue here is that the ratio of 'blatant offenders' vs. the amount of reasonably portrayed female characters is very skewed, especially if you compare it to the portrayal of male characters.

If 9 out of 10 games only contain objectified female characters whose main purpose is basically to serve as eye-candy, I think it's pretty much inevitable that gamer culture as a whole will start objectifying women on a subconscious level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
There seems to be a lot of agreement that there is sexism in games and a lack of decent female characters. If this is truly important to you guys, why not do something about it?

Why not make a game? To keep goals realistic, it could be a casual flash game. Tensei, since you started this discussion and seem to be passionate about it, I think you should lead the project. The proceeds could be donated to a worthy charity that helps women in developing countries like: http://www.charitywater.org/whywater/ (Watch the video.)

I know you guys have the free time, otherwise you wouldn't have so many posts in this thread. If you lack the coding skills, you can pick them up quickly. I can direct you to some books that will teach you all the skills you need to know for a simple game very quickly. I can provide the storyline and dialogue -- I have a short story with a female protagonist that would adapt very well to a space shooter. This community is full of talented artists. Monobrow, for example (and/or others also passionate about this issue) could provide the art. We have many talented musicians in this community and could collab on a soundtrack.

So what do you think guys, is this something you're passionate about enough to do something? You'd be helping women in developing nations, possibly even saving some of their lives, and simultaneously making a positive contribution to gender equality in the gaming community.

I'm willing to give it a go but not without actually having any coding skills. I know fanprojects like this often have plenty of people with 'ideas', but tend to lack people with necessary skills so you end up with a whole lot of concepts but very little work to show for it. Then again, if 4chan can succesfully make a videogame, I don't see why this site shouldn't be able to.

If you could direct me to those books you mentioned, I'd be happy to do some reading.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm willing to give it a go but not without actually having any coding skills. I know fanprojects like this often have plenty of people with 'ideas', but tend to lack people with necessary skills so you end up with a whole lot of concepts but very little work to show for it. Then again, if 4chan can succesfully make a videogame, I don't see why this site shouldn't be able to.

If you could direct me to those books you mentioned, I'd be happy to do some reading.

I've just sent you a pdf over FB. Here's one of the most highly rated games on Kongregate:

http://www.kongregate.com/games/xdanond/rpg-shooter-starwish/

It's a very simple space shooter with a strong story. The coding and art were done by 1 person based on the very basic flash tutorial on Kong. (Which contains much, much less information than that pdf I just sent.) It has over 1 million plays.

With all the talent in this community, I don't see why we can't make something successful. Even if the game doesn't do that well, it's still doing something and any money raised, even a little, can make a difference in the lives of a few women in a third world country.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
3. Darangen, your example of talking to 9 girls in a restaurant is so ludicrous on just a logical level that I don't even think I need to address that, but on a personal level it actually kind of angers me a little bit. Did that conversation somehow enable you to feel more validated in your opinion that big boobs are okay because these women seemed to not care? I could just as easily take everything people say at face value, but I realize I'd be tailoring incomplete data towards a false conclusion. The foundation of the question and observation is weak at best. For one, I guarantee that almost every girl you talked to probably has not picked up a game since age 10, as society told them that it wasn't for them a long time ago. As a woman who is 30 years old, I struggled to find people who would talk about video games with me. It wasn't until I got on the internet when I was 18 that I felt comfortable talking about it, but not until I changed my moniker to a non-gender-specific one in 2004 because of how crappy this scene has been in regards to gender. But as a kid, being a girl, I was considered a weirdo because I loved video games, it was my secret life, and not even in an unhealthy way, but something you guys would consider probably very regular by your parents. I was socially pressured from an early age to not like them, but I still played them anyway. I would ask my little brother to ask for them for me, because my parents would buy them for him but it'd be a battle for me. I felt isolated from my peers, there were many times in high school when guys were talking about video games I knew and loved, and I was too embarrassed to talk about them because I had associated talking about them with being ridiculed earlier or social groups of females that were not well liked, even though it was perfectly normal for males to like these things, it wasn't for me. When I was a kid, I had girlfriends who loved video games that do not play them today, and do not care, but when I talk about "old times" and things we used to play together, suddenly a light goes on, and they remember, "Yeah wow I really thought that was fun!" I had a circle of friends when I was ten that talked about video games on a regular basis. We also talked about girl stuff at sleepovers, but we'd play Ninja Turtles, or Mega Man, have magazines with cheat codes as well as magazines about boys. I can't help feeling that a lot of the female "turn off" is nurtured. It is true that some girls really never find them appealing, but I also know many dudes who don't as well. Why that is should come down to personal preference, not what gender you are.

To clarify, the point of asking the girls in the restaurant was not to OK the obvious sexualization of women in video games, but rather to verify my theory that said sexualization is not what keeps most women from playing video games. Of the 9, 3 said they play regularly and the other 6 said they don't play or haven't played in a very long time so they probably fit into your guarantee of not picking up a game since age 10.

I do understand, or at least I think I do, where you're coming from. Being around age 30 myself, my little sister who's a year younger went through a similar childhood that you described. She liked video games, only rpg's really, but was always pressured by mom to pick up a barbie or play with hair or talk on the phone or whatever. It's not right, and hopefully current and future generations can fix those issues.

Thanks for posting, this topic needs real female input. I didn't see Irish post, but I'll go back and read it over.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this