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Videogames and Sexism


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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.

And the results of your test still hold no relevant meaning whatsoever for reasons that have already been brought up multiple times.

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The general portrayal of women wouldn't bother me so much if it was based on a believeable reason as to why they behave and dress in the manner they are portrayed.

Sorry I didn't respond sooner, I didn't mean to ignore you or anything (I hope you're still reading this thread). Good points that you made, I definitely agree that women's behavior and dress should be back by a believable reason.

Examples: Ashe (FFXII). Royalty in hiding, and a woman in a 'resistance' effort wouldn't be wearing a skirt so short. Not only would men be staring, the knights around her wouldn't be letting her fight as one of them and not question propriety. I'm sorry, princesses do not equal street walkers, even if they're trying to blend in.

Aeris (FFVII). Wow, a girl who has almost a fullsize dress on? Admittedly it was designed with a split, but I can believe she'd need to wear something like that to run in while in a party.

Female Heroine (Pokemon Black/White). Why is it necessary that her cutoff shorts basically give you a panty shot every time she throws the pokeball out? How is this even comfortable when running around collecting pokemon? How does this protect your legs from chiggers in tall grass?

Bianca (Pokemon Black/White). This bothers me. She's got a cute little skirt on, stockings, etc. But she's portrayed as a complete ditz while her childhood friend "Female Heroine" is considered the stronger personality. Why do I feel like if I dress modestly I must be some sort of dumbass?

Yeah, I always felt Ashe was dressed stupidly for the situation, a princess fighting in a resistance would try to blend in a little better. Excellent point about Aeris, I never thought of it that way. It would be really hard to travel in a full length dress. I haven't played Pokemon Black/White, but good points you brought up there as well.

These are just a few examples. Fully clothed, strong minded women are few and far between in video games. Hell, I'll accept tight clothes on a woman if it's reasonable. If I question the ability to do what they do while dressed in what they're dressed, I have a problem taking the game seriously. I realize I'm not supposed to do this but again. If developers are moving towards realism to immerse me in their game (graphics, physics, gritty story), then for the love of God make your characters wear clothes that make some fucking sense.

http://www.creativeuncut.com/gallery-03/art/tp-zelda-render.jpg

Zelda wore this while riding a horse and firing arrows at Ganondorf. The skirt looks wide enough that she can do that. That means this girl doesn't need leggings, a bare midriff or sexy boots to be badass.

It is indeed hard to take a game seriously when the dress and behavior of the characters, women in this case, doesn't make sense. Rachel from Ninja Gaiden is an idiot who I just can't take seriously. Luckily the game was mostly about Ryu. Many of the female fighters in Soul Calibur are laughable, even though some of them are pretty tough. It's disappointing to see such characters in video games, I ask myself "is this really what guys want?" I mean, if you want to see boobs, check out Playboy or internet porn. Of course, if the story has some intelligent and believable reason for large breasted, scantily clad women, go for it.

Zelda is a good example of a strong female with logical clothing. When she dresses as Sheik, it also makes sense, we're not even supposed to know she's a woman. I'm not sure if you played FF9, but I think Dagger is a great example of a strong female lead. When she travels with Zidane, her clothes make sense for the situation. She's also a strong willed character, with realistic emotions. Dagger is never your typical damsel in distress, even when she's captured. Terra from FF6 is also a good example.

To answer your question, it seems to be a case by case thing with me. However, when female characters are just 'there' rather than a beleiveable ally that actually helps, it's hard to not be disappointed.

You made some great points here, and I agree with them. Again, sorry I didn't respond sooner.

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Thanks for the clarification Darangen.

On a few side notes, I'm gonna talk about Samus a little more, I guess I also can say that I sort of feel like, Samus with the suit on is MY video game fantasy world, where her gender doesn't matter, where I am aware she's a woman, but I don't really think of it in a sexualized manner, which IMO fits with her character completely. She's a bounty hunter that has saved the galaxy, as opposed to her different and inevitable portrayal as being all vulnerable and "sexy" with the suit off, which is probably more along the lines of a dude's fantasy, and has zero to actually do with who she is.

Before the Zero Suit, Samus was the untouchable character in a way, fan-art with her just taking her helmet off was a big deal back then. The word that came to mind was a character that you could "respect". But now, just google search "Samus". Fifty percent of my search shows Zero Suit, and most of them over-sexualized like this:

normal_samus_12.jpg

Does it piss me off? No. Do I find it kind of offensive? Just a little bit. Do I understand that she has to take her clothes off sometime, and doesn't have to wear the suit? I guess so. But do I demand that of Link or Mario or Cloud? Of course not and neither does anyone else. And while I understand her suitless at the end of games, it wasn't a big deal at the time. And while I see the reasoning for why she lost her suit at the reveal in Zero Mission, I don't think the story would have been portrayed that way in the first place if she were a man.

At one point before they went in-depth about her "past" and who she is, I felt that maybe the suit was somehow a part of her body, I don't know where I got that impression, but I honestly think that's a way cooler concept, an alien suit that you can't exactly take off for better or worse. There's a woman underneath there, but you don't have to see her naked to know that. I find it to be much more interesting, but I feel that when there is a woman that isn't exactly sexualized involved as the hero, with a demographic of avid fanboys to please, it's a bigger money-maker to give them a "money-shot" where they get the ass and the breasts eventually. It's a big reason why unsexualized women characters have "other" costumes that you unlock as a reward in say, fighting games. I also find it ironic that Taki had a more "traditional" second costume that wasn't highly sexualized... And how much, when playing Soul Calibur II, I would use Taki's alternate costume instead. It really seemed like her alternate costume should have been the first one, but they just choose the boobs mcgee because they knew it would shock and sell. The tits just seriously were distracting.

On a side note, I don't really find Tifa as offensive. Yes, her boobs were huge, (I felt like she'd tip over in the FMVs) but in comparison, there weren't many other huge-boobed Final Fantasy characters prior or even after. They were all very similar in design, even awesome characters like Celes, in that they had that Amano touch of being dainty and doll-like. Aeris was more of an archetype to me, the support character, in a dress, anime-esque "innocent" and pure-hearted. Tifa is a bit of an anomaly, she's "more mature" because she's actually a bit weaker, less-than-perfect and more cynical. She has flaws and therefore is more personable. In a weird way, the big boobs fit. But I had that option in FFVII. There was more than one kind of female character portrayed, and they weren't oversexualized, Tifa being the worst offender as it has been stated her "assets" were emphasized to be more pleasing. In a way, I was happy about her dumbed down breasts in AC, but on the flip side, women with large breasts exist, and from what I noticed, what she was wearing flattened her chest a bit, it was more sporty.

Her outfit overall though, was "hot tomboy and sporty", the plain shirt, the mini skirt (I honestly think they should have just been short shorts, which would make more sense but that's just me), and the boots, which are good for kicking. The gloves, good for punching. Okay, makes sense. Her hair was long, but was sort of tied back, I mean not in a really sensible way, but you have to give these kind of characters excuses, most of their hair is unrealistic anyway, not just Tifa.

233659-tifa_large.jpg

Stuff like this is borderline, but it doesn't spell out "please have sex with me I am a sex object". It doesn't affect me as much as Zero Suit Samus does, because the initial portrayal of Samus is almost in a way defied by what she's become, and just how much we will see of the Zero Suit from now on. In contrast, Tifa covered up more over time.

Really I'm just arguing how certain images make me feel here though, it's an association game based on specifics, character purpose, how they fit in their environment, and how they come across to me at the end. At the end of the day, I respect Tifa as a character even with her big-ass boobs over the latest iteration of Samus in her Zero Suit. One I've accepted, the other I feel is kind of a cop-out.

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The Zero Suit, more than just about anything, is my least favorite development in the Metroid mythos to occur in the last 10 years.

Hell, you can put her back in her weird-looking leotard with green hair and that will still be better than that skin-tight latex/plug-suit fetish junk.

I suppose it makes a little sense in a sci-fi setting but it has yet to be handled in a decent way (I suppose in Zero Mission, arguably, but that was a pretty boring 15 minutes of the game, compared to the rest* - and don't get me started on the "high-heels" they added to it in Other M!).

Samus was a lot like Ellen Ripley in the earlier years of the franchise -who by the way is one of my all-time favorite film protagonists male or female**- at least Alien 1-3 Ripley because lord knows what the FUCK was going on in Alien: Resurrection with all the goofy Ron Perlman stuff. Yeah people say "no character" but she was a female character that didn't need an overly big lame backstories or shit like that - she was another blank-slate character we projected our own kind of inner-fantasies and stories on to, like Link, or those early RPG heroes -her actions spoke louder than words and I feel that gamers all around felt a similar degree of respect that is not present for fans of Mario and (maybe) Zelda. The sheer amount of simply amazing fan-fiction of Metroid out there attests to the place she has in the hearts of gamers.

*If it were up to me Zero Mission would have ended after Mother Brain and it would have been one bitchin' remake. It still is but Chozodia is a draaaaaag.

**she is a good example of empowered female character to me (Sarah Connor is another, at least in the first film) because she is never heavily sexualized in any real way, unless you count the scene at the end of Alien where she's alone in her underwear when the xeno is in the escape pod (but I don't count that as heavily sexualized : / )... Or that fucking fucking AWFUL attempted-rape scene in Alien3 which is probably the single damn worst scene in the entire film franchise, worse than Hicks and Newt dieing and worse than all of Alien: Resurrection (and that movie was mega-shit). I don't care if it was immediately followed by Charles Dutton kicking some serious ass being a bad-ass preacher-man, I wish it never happened.

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Or that fucking fucking AWFUL attempted-rape scene in Alien3 which is probably the single damn worst scene in the entire film franchise, worse than Hicks and Newt dieing and worse than all of Alien: Resurrection (and that movie was mega-shit). I don't care if it was immediately followed by Charles Dutton kicking some serious ass being a bad-ass preacher-man, I wish it never happened.

I know rite?

Alien 3 would have been better as a non-Alien movie. It feels nothing like Alien or Aliens, at all. It feels more like your run-of-the-mill space prison movies, and not even a good one at that. I agree that the rape scene was just awful and uncomfortable, and not in any kind of redeeming way, as was the autopsy, which was just in horrible taste.

You should see some of the previous scripts and drafts for it, they are hilarious. Some are so fucking weird that I can't even describe them. Also I like to think of Alien 3 as a bad dream ER had on the trip back to earth. It feels like a dream to me, it doesn't make any goddamn sense any other way really. The director went for a shock, to shake up a franchise that honestly didn't really need it, and ended up terminating two of the most important characters, which ultimately has been pointed as happening, just because they couldn't get the same actors back for it, that's not a good reason to kill them off, especially if you can't think of a good reason to make the movie in the first place, they were essential, not only emotionally, but they represented a message, and when they were taken away, it was seriously like a big fuck you. So yeah, it's a bad dream, which makes sense, even in the context of Aliens :)

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This is actually what a lot of people in this thread have to be convinced of in the first place.

No, most people here know that sexism exists in video games and that many games are targeted towards men (correct me if I'm wrong, I skimmed through a few pages), though not all agree that it is a problem. However, a lot of people here are not convinced that the objectification of women is the main reason there aren't as many female gamers.

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Are games really sexist or do game developers just do what works? The way I see it, game development is like rap. Let it be natural and good, keep the british people away from it because they'll make it sound silly and wimpy. That's just life.

Nintendo era Rare frowns at your implications, good sir.

But not Xbox Rare. They just have empty smiles and empty minds.

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the biggest, most powerful facepalm

I'm baffled as to how so many people not only think that forums are only their for their posts and nobody else's, but also how many people will readily admit to it

What I meant was the few pages that I didn't fully read, I skimmed. In that case, I should have said "most people here know sexism exists in video games." Or better yet, said nothing. It has nothing to do with thinking forums are meant for me, I don't see how you got that out of "I didn't read every page." I'm sure you don't always read every page of every thread before posting. It wasn't the "biggest, most powerful facepalm," don't get all excited. Sorry for derailing this thread.

EDIT:

To bring this back on topic, I think not as many women playing games has more to do with the stigma the girls don't play video games. A lot of women now grew up when that stigma was fairly strong. I think that stigma is disappearing, and that we'll see much more women playing video games in the coming years. I also want to make the point that the males everywhere should be careful when discussing what appeals/doesn't appeal to women. Games like Soul Calibur and CoD that supposedly appeal to males, are appealing to plenty of women as well. I don't really think there as many games that portray women stupidly as some people here think. For every game that show women as sex objects, I could name a game that is completely neutral when it comes to gender roles. That's not to say that the portrayal of women isn't a problem, of course it is. I think the best solution is to encourage women to make their voice heard about these issues, and to get involved in making games, as was brought up earlier. Of course, we also should try to encourage less bullshit over the internet, I don't really know the best way to do that. And spreading awareness about the portrayal of women is important, but not bludgeon people (literally, and with words) over the head any time someone disagrees (not accusing anyone in this thread of doing that). That only makes things worse. Also, we shouldn't lunge at men who make legitimate complaints about stereotypical/stupid male characters in video games.

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That's because Other M kind of ruined that for a lot of people. :P

Other M was a disaster. They completely went against the established character of the protagonist.

This is ESPECIALLY true if you read the manga that precedes Metroid/Metroid: Zero Mission. That actually gives Samus a surprising amount of depth in her character, considering the fact that she's mostly a silent protagonist.

Although, personally, I think Square Enix is getting better at making good, tasteful female characters these days (and I have two in mind: Lightning and Xion from FFXIII/FFXIII-2 and the Kingdom Hearts series, respectively.) Lightning looks attractive, but isn't overtly sexualized much at all and has a backstory for her character that gives her actual depth (she still is given the ass-kicking archetype, but in this case she's ex-military and has multiple reasons for acting the way she does, instead of just being the one who beats everyone to a pulp because she can like so many female characters do these days). Xion was a great character, good fighter, humorous at some times, serious at others, and really made you like her even in the end of the game not so much because of anything involving her gender in particular, but because of the way her character was built. Hell, her gender only really matters because they're playing off of Sora's memories with her as the plot device to do so (she IS supposed to embody his memories of Kairi, after all.)

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Plenty of characters in video games either just don't do it for me, or are downright disastrously portrayed, male and female alike. I find good, fleshed out 'realistic' characters hard to find in any medium. Whether that's games, books, anime, movies, tv, comics etc. I never really felt that women were more poorly portrayed in video games, because I find the men are pretty laughable too. Am I annoyed by things like super sexualized or stereotypical women? Sure. Do I deny there's sexism in games? Of course not. Am I particularly bothered by it all? Naw.

I don't feel like sexism in games is what keeps women from playing games either. I won't pretend that I fully understand why anyone isn't drawn to games because as long as I can remember I have loved and adored video games, so it boggles my mind when people are "PFT" about video games. I have even known males who aren't into games. Some people just aren't. And I would agree that maybe it's more about the stigma a lot of girls grew up with than anything. I won't pretend to know about that either, because I was very fortunate. My mother never pressed any sort of gender role on me and let me play with whatever I wanted growing up. (That's not to say I didn't get grief from certain girls in school for it) I loved my video games, and my barbies, and my pocketknife, and playing outside with frogs, and fishing, and stuffed animals, and legos, and action figures. Not every parent lets their child explore such a variety, and I'm very sad that way of thinking exists, and I am sorry for anyone that's had to go through it. However even if you have? You can't make blanketed statements as if you're an authority figure that speaks on behalf of all women. I can respect Monobrow's opinions, even if I don't share all of them, but that starts to get flushed when saying something like, "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." Even though we're both women you don't and shouldn't try to speak for me or any other woman. What you think and feel is how you think and feel and what I think and feel is how I think and feel and I don't expect anyone to share my opinions. Varied life experiences will color a person's perspective in different ways than another.

But I think the stigma of girls playing games is going away, like another poster said. And that's great. Hopefully that means less parents will force gender roles on their children and allow them to explore more.

Oh and I do want to say I don't quite understand why people saw the need to skewer Darangen. There's something people here obviously want to know. What keeps women who don't play video games away from those video games? Is it the sexualization of women in games? The logical choice here, to me, would be to ask some women. He did. It doesn't make him an authority on the subject, no, but I find doing that to be far more productive than conjecture. Generally when I want a male's PoV on something, I will ask one of my male friends. If I knew anyone who wasn't into video games I'd ask them why they weren't, but I unfortunately don't.

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To bring this back on topic, I think not as many women playing games has more to do with the stigma the girls don't play video games. A lot of women now grew up when that stigma was fairly strong.

Yes, I think most people here would agree with that. That's also considered sexist - that stigma had no reason to be there other than the fact that girls shouldn't do things that guys like to do. The perpetuation of that idea is a form of sexism.

Just saying, is all.

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Oh and I do want to say I don't quite understand why people saw the need to skewer Darangen. There's something people here obviously want to know. What keeps women who don't play video games away from those video games? Is it the sexualization of women in games? The logical choice here, to me, would be to ask some women. He did. It doesn't make him an authority on the subject, no, but I find doing that to be far more productive than conjecture.

Again though, there is nothing you could realistically conclude about women as a whole by interviewing a small group like that. It's completely useless data and can't be used to 'prove' anything. And more importantly, as Monobrow pointed out, THEY might not recognize it as sexism themselves.

If you asked them something like "Hey do you feel like videogames are primarily marketed towards guys?" and followed that up with "Do you think that could be one of the reasons that keep you from playing videogames?", you MIGHT get more accurate results, but it's still highly unlikely because you're looking at a social situation where they're out with friends, some guy they don't know comes up and asks a question about sexism. Feminism is pretty much demonized in todays culture so they might not feel comfortable voicing their concerns in public.

That aside 'Sexism' is a loaded term, and few people actually understand what it encompasses. Compare it to the terms racism and homophobia, which calls to mind situations where someone unironically says "I'm not racist, but *incredibly racist statement*". I mean, people in this thread have trouble recognizing that things like focusing the marketing of something towards a particular gender (for a product that objectively should be gender-neutral, such as videogames) would count as sexism.

In short, there are just tons of issues I have with the way the 'test' was conducted

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I can respect Monobrow's opinions, even if I don't share all of them, but that starts to get flushed when saying something like, "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." Even though we're both women you don't and shouldn't try to speak for me or any other woman.

Not to nitpick back or anything, but this wasn't intended to be taken the way you did. This my personal, and extremely safe-to-assume guarantee that if you talk to a woman about this, and she has the time/comfort level to give this some thought and understanding, also assuming she is presented with the correct information and facts, she will conclude that there is a problem with the situation in some shape/form. This is a guarantee from me. I am willing to bet money on it. I never said "Because I am a woman, I speak for all women when I say that they have a problem with it." So I think you read into this and turned it into something it wasn't. This is instead, me throwing it out there, that I understand the situation, the argument, the facts, how they all relate, and a person's ability to deduct and reason enough to assume as much, and therefore outright vouch for my conclusion. Being a woman has nothing to do with it.

Furthermore, I think the real question should be, why did I bring up a woman's "comfort level" as a main factor for her being able to discuss whether or not she'd have a problem? The answer is that it was my point within a response to Darangen. My initial problem with his example had a great deal to do with whether or not the nine women he talked to were actually in a valid setting for discussion of this topic, that is, can he factually conclude "See? These women did not have a problem!" in this setting?

My counter (ganging up on) to this conclusion was first that it is not a valid example. And secondly, I was personally bothered by its use. Furthermore, to solidify what I was saying, I guaranteed that to not only these 9 women, but to all women, it would be a problem under my premise, (comfort/time/information), the most important part of this premise being "comfort", as goes without saying when there is any kind of oppression of a group of people whatsoever.

We can get into the "everyone's opinions is subjective" and "everything is relative" argument, but I'd rather not, as IMO as the end-all defense, it can be a destructive stance within active and progressive discussions. When people are actually discussing certain issues, where facts and information are being established, and examples are used to reinforce one's assertions, it is important sometimes to not always be all guns blazing when someone makes a broad statement, especially when your own personal opinion actually lends support to it.

To me, it was rather obvious I wasn't speaking for all women when I said that. I was speaking for myself, and what I believe to be true. It was you that took me as speaking for all women there.

But I'd also like to note that you've said that you do actually have a problem with it in some shape/form, and you are comfortable enough to talk about it here, therefore as far as you go, I am right. :)

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