Their is a common miss conception that video games are for boys even though girls make up about 47% of the market. The following video perfectly shows how marketing for games created the myth that games are for boys only. #AllGamersMatter
In the past few days, thanks to our dysfunctional political system, the talk of sexual assault and general sexism towards women is front in center. Now I am not going to talk about any one politics but this seems like a good time for personal reflection. Three years ago I wrote an article about Sexism in Gaming. In the time that has passed my views on many things have changed and have become more diverse. I also feel during this time the video game industry has gotten better about how female characters are portrayed.
An example of this gradual improvement is the female character design from Mortal Kombat 9 to 10. In MK 9, all the female characters essentially had the same body type of a large breasted supermodel. Plus, their base outfits were basically character specific bikinis. An ideal game for a young boy or girl who just hit puberty. But not ideal for getting past the idea that women are eye candy. Though for me personally, I do not fault Mortal Kombat 9 for not having women with realistic figures mostly because the entire game is not based in reality. There is a four armed behemoth that can tear people apart. Or characters can receive major trauma to major organs and get back up like nothing happened. So having women in a bikini that can cut people into tiny pieces is not out of place for this game. With that said, having all the women’s breasts defy gravity was not necessary to improve the game play.
Now in Mortal Kombat 10 I feel that there were many intentional design changes for all the female characters. For example, all of the female characters have their own believable body types, instead of copying and pasting like in MK 9. Also there are no female skins that are just blatant eye candy. Now there are several skins that show some skin but nothing that’s just screams “fan service”. Another thing about the skins is that pretty much all of them would be practical to wear in a fight. Which is nice as long as you are not the one to have a fatality used on them. At that point it really doesn’t matter what one wears.
This is just one of many games that have come out in the past three years that show women more than just objects. Other examples would include Overwatch and the Call of Duty Franchise. Each of these games have playable female characters that are not just there to fill time. Now there are some people who will say that even, for example, Overwatch’s female characters are still to sexualized. Or that there is not enough diversity with female characters. To those people I say “get over yourself”.
Has the industry as a whole gotten better about having respectable and interesting female characters? Yes. Does the industry still have female characters that appeal to young boys or girls, if they swing that way, that are hitting puberty? Yes. Can the industry do more to have more women in their ranks to make games to appeal to women? Yes. Will the sexualization of women ever completely go away in gaming? No. But can we all push for more games that don’t just show one dimension of an individual or group? Yes.
Lately I have noticed that sexism has been brought up more and more in conversations when it comes to gaming. Though I am not too surprised because for many gamers and non gamers video games are still an all boys club. An I feel that it is true because it is ingrained in to the stereotype. An this is something I can personally relate to because being a young black male one might assume that I only listen to rap music and dress like a thug. An they would think that if they believed one of the many stereotypes about black people.
Though despite the fact that stereotypes are based on some truth, one should not use that as a blanket statement to describe any one person. In the world of video games sexism comes in two flavors, female characters and female gamers. There are a large number of games where if there is a playable female character, more than likely she will be wearing something impractical. I feel that Japan is one of the worst offenders especially when it comes to RPG’s. But American publishers, at times, are a close second. An here is a visual just in case who have been living underneath a rock for a while.(picture is of Tera Armor)
This is just one of the many examples of were females are sexualized in video games. An if they are not sexualized they tend to be the damsel in distress. But the reasoning behind this is usually an easy plot device. Which is understandable when you realize who these game developers are making games for. They make them for males 18-30 years of age. Now put your self in the shoes of the developers. If you know that young males are buying your games, would you not want to appeal to there interests? Cause I don’t know about you but if you show me a pair of boobs that will at least get me through the door.
Now this were I think the heart of the problem lies. That game developers still make games primarily for males. But according to the Entertainment Software Association 45% of gamers are female. Almost half of gamers are females yet we still have so much over sexualization of women in games. Which in my opinion is more of a cultural issues than just a gaming issue, but that just me. Though at the same time I can not explain why there are so many female gamers despite so many games geared towards males. It could be just that they don’t play games with lots of misogyny or they just don’t care. I honestly don’t know since I am a guy.
The second issue I noticed is that female gamers are sometimes seen as not real gamers. Or they just say that they play to get attention. And here is where I think the stereotype that only guys play video games really comes into play. Cause if you ignorantly believe that only guy play video games then you are just stupid. But since we live in the age of the Internet it has become easier to say that you are a girl gamer and then get trolled by a bunch insecure men. An this type of behavior will continue as long as we have assholes. Also as a side note I don’t care for the term “girl gamer” but just gamer. And I feel this way because I don’t want to just be seen as a black man but simple as a man, but more specifically by my name.
Over all I feel this issue is not just a gaming issue but a cultural issue. An until we change as a people or all assholes disappear then this will continue for as long as humanity lives. Though in the meantime we can win small battles by informing people to reduce their ignorance. But I would honestly like to know the female perspective on this so if you are a female and play video games please leave a comment.