So, THIS argument has popped up again.... and again..... and again: Women are overly sexualised in games, Girl gamers are routinely abused online, The gaming industry is full of sexist pigs etc.
I'm tired of trying to post single comments in the thousands of articles relating to this, so I thought I'd put all my own thoughts in to one handy Blog for all, or nobody, to read.
Depiction & Over Sexualisation Of Women In Video Games
Yes, there is some mild sexualisation in games. I'd be lying if I said there wasn't any. The obvious ones like Dead Or Alive and Tomb Raider spring to mind first.
First off the "bouncy boobies" in DoA are just part of a game that is so ridiculously over-the-top, it's almost tongue-in-cheek, more than anything else. The women are scantily clad, the men are bulging brutes. It's all a bit silly, rather than titillating. Similar to Lollipop Chainsaw that was released earlier this year.
With Tomb Raider, yes, Lara Croft is nice to look at, with her athletic body, heaving bosom, THAT ass and posh English accent. But she's also, intelligent, strong, independent and kills a lot of stereotypical, dumb, male henchman. Facts that are largely overlooked, or smeared over just because she happens to be attractive and has big breasts. Not to mention that the main reason the Tomb Raider games (especially the earlier ones) have been so succesful is actually down to their outstanding 3d level design, clever puzzles & platforming. The novelty of Lara being hot wears off after about 2 minutes of playing the game. Yes, I had a little giggle the first time I saw the big boobies, but I didn't play the whole game with one hand. Which brings me to my main point with regards to the sexualisation of women in games.
From what I've read in the majority of Blogs, Forums, Comments etc protesting against the depiction of women in games, there are a few things that seem consistent in all of them:
Firstly: The people doing the complaining seem to think that all male gamers are horny, knuckle-dragging, slobbering, Neanderthals. I actually find THIS offensive. I have NEVER purchased a game thinking "There might be a hot chick in this". I buy games I think might be interesting & enjoyable for me to play, not because I want to drool all over my control pad at scantily-clad women. I think even the most seasoned pervert would struggle to be titillated by a video game, or would go out and buy a game just for that reason. Just because I'm a man, doesn't mean I constantly have naked ladies on the brain. I read the interview with Anita Sarkeesian of Feminist Frequency and it's pretty clear that her and many others like her presume that all male gamers are like this. We're not. I play games for fun, that is all.
Secondly: From what I've read, the depiction of women in games doesn't really seem to be an issue from a sex point of view, it seems to be more about VANITY. Many seem to think that just because a female game character is attractive, she's somehow less intelligent and is therefore a sex-object. I completely disagree with this. In my view, it is just down to pure vanity and nothing else. The majority of video games characters are much like the majority of movie characters: Everyone is fit and pretty. You don't see people writing angry Blogs about good looking men, or women, in movies creating overly sexualised characters, so why is it such a big deal when it comes to video games ? I don't truly have an answer to that one. I just think their is a small minority looking to create a major fuss over nothing. I don't think women are depicted any worse in games than they are on TV, or movies. Sure there are a few games that could be considered titillating, but it's the same as any other media, whether it be TV, Movies, Magazines etc. It's a very small percentage.
Lastly: There's a lot of rambling in these articles about equality and women in games being "The Damsel In Distress". Again, I completely disagree with this. Maybe 20 years ago when Mario had to rescue Daisy and Link had to rescue Zelda. We've come a LONG way since then. There are many strong female characters in games these days: Sarah Kerrigan, Alyx Vance, Samus Aran, Lara Croft, Cortana and yes even the bouncy babes from DoA: They may be sexy, but they fight and win against MEN. How much more equality to you want ???? Not to mention the fact that in most RPG's you can play as a female lead, most notably, in recent years, with FemShep in the Mass Effect Trilogy. Again, certain people are making a major fuss over nothing. It just goes back to the vanity argument: If a female game character is pretty, she must be stupid & helpless.
Girls Gamers & Online Abuse
I have quite a few girls on my Xbox Friends, who I play with fairly regularly and I've never once heard them get picked on just for being a girl. I have heard THEM taunt guys by saying: "Ha, you just got owned by a girl" and everyone laughs. From my own experiences online, I'd say it's one of the few mediums where people are judged on their ability rather than their gender. Also, I only really play with online friends, rather than going in to open games, because I can't be bothered with all the screaming & trash-talking. It doesn't bother me, it just gives me a headache. So, to any girl gamers who are apprehensive about playing online: Play a few games and you'll get friendly with people and eventually you'll play with friends most of the time. If you prefer to fly solo, you do so at your own risk. Just don't get upset at some name-calling. It happens to EVERYONE, not just girls. Remember, you can always block, or mute someone who just wont shut the hell up !
Sexism In The Industry
I obviously can't comment fully on the matter, as I don't work in the industry and am unaware of companies hiring poilicies. All I can say is, from what I see, there seems to be healthy amount of women working in the journalism side of the industry. Sure it's not 50/50, but that's down to video gaming being more of a male interest than a female. There's no denying that more men are in to games than women, especially the more hardcore element. I don't know the exact number, but I'd say it's about 80/20 in favour of men, who are in to gaming enough to pursue a career in the industry, whether it be in game journalism, or game development. As gaming is becoming a more mainstream hobby, I expect the number of women working in the industry will increase over time. However, I expect it will always be more of a male interest than a female one. Again, this is all just speculation on my part, as I have no idea when it comes to the hiring policies of game developers and game magazines etc.
I can see this debate raging on for a while yet, but that's all I have to say for now. Personally, I don't see what all the fuss is about concerning the depiction of women in games. It's just like everything else: You can't please everyone.
I just hope that this vocal minority don't get their way, otherwise political-correctness will get so out of hand, it'll be like playing Pong all over again: Instead of characters we'll have genderless blocks that don't speak and have no personality. I'm all for equality, but that's a step too far !
Feel free to post a comment below, whether you agree, or disagree. I may reply to some of them.
Keep it civil.
Mass Effect 3
Dragon Age 2
Elder Scrolls V
Gears Of War 3
Deus Ex: Human Revolution
Dead Space 2
The Darkness 2
Thief 4 (Maybe)
Batman: Arkham City
Duke Nukem Forever
Ghost Recon: Future Soldier
The Witcher 2
Metal Gear Solid Rising (Maybe)
If these all come out on their scheduled release dates in 2011, it'll be the best year I've seen in gaming for a LONG time.
2. Darth Malak
3. Albert Wesker
5. Liquid/Revolver Ocelot
6. Death Adder
7. Reapers (Mass Effect)
8. Walter Simons
10. The Origami Killer
I left out Darth Vader & The Joker, as I believe they are better known as movie & comic-book villains than game villains, otherwise they'd have been in there somewhere.
Haven't played Starcraft, so I can't comment on Kerrigan. Although I have watched the cut scenes from Starcraft 2 & she's a great character. Wouldn't say she was an out & out villain though.
Well another year has past & another Call Of Duty is out, except, it has cunningly just been named: "Modern Warfare 2"
Honestly. Are you people really that stupid ?
I played COD4 after being told by most people on my XBL friend's list: "It's the best shooter you'll ever play"
I'd played the older COD games & was not overly-impressed, but I thought I'd buy it to see what all the fuss was about...... only to finish the campaign the same day I bought it.
Then I get on to the Multiplayer, that everyone raves about, only to find everyone running about like headless chickens, shooting the first thing that moves (Which I was doing on "DOOM" 15 years ago) & the players not running around were camping at spawn points trying to pick people off as they spawn. Then there's the mind-numbingly stupid "Perk" system that completely destroys the balance of the game in multiplayer.
And, please, don't try & call me a noob, just cause you disagree with what I'm saying. I've been playing video games for 20 years & I play shooters more than anything else, so behave.
Fast forward a year. I go to a friends house and he insists we play COD WAW, again being told it's the best thing since the last Call Of Duty. (Not a good start). We do the campaign, which, like drunken sex, is brief & instantly forgettable. (Much like COD4) and low & behold......... the multiplayer plays like every other Call Of Duty ever made: Run, shoot, kill, run, shoot, kill, die, spawn, REPEAT.
Honest-to-God, how the hell can these games be considered revolutionary & ground-breaking shooters ?
They do NOTHING that every other FPS hasn't done before. Like I said: 15 years ago, I was running around like crazy shooting people on DOOM over a LAN, which was great fun....... 15 years ago.
Nowadays, you expect more from a shooter than the old run & gun routine with zero strategy.
I keep hearing: "But, ooooh, it's really realistic, that's what makes it so good".
Is it really that realistic ? Er....No, it's not and if you're going to base how good a game is on it's realism, maybe you should play some of the old Rainbow Six games on the PC where, if you took one shot, it was over.
Is it really more realistic than Rainbow Six or Ghost Recon ? Simple answer... NO.
What bugs me the most, is the morons who go out & buy franchise games like this every year, thinking it's going to be 10x better than the previous year. They know in their heart of hearts, there's barely any difference from the year before, but they'll still play it for hours on end without any complaints.
It's getting to the point that the COD franchise has basically become like the EA sports games: People are taken in with the slick marketing & hype and like mindless zombies, they'll go out & buy it, without fail.
Well, I'm going to break the trend & I'll be giving Modern Warfare 2 a WIDE berth & let the zombies enjoy it.
Normally I reserve judgement 'til I play a game, but not this time, because I know it wont be any different from the last one.
I've played better games of this type on the current gen of consoles: BF: Bad Company, Brothers In Arms: Hells Highway, Rainbow Six Vegas, GRAW. All far superior to the COD games, because they offered something different to the gamer, other than Run & Shoot.
I know I'm in the minority when I bash the COD series, but I really don't care. I'm not doing it to be deliberately controversial or rub the COD fan-boys up the wrong way, I just genuinely don't see what all the fuss is about with these games.
Surely, I'm not alone.
Just my humble opinion:
1. Fallout 3
2. Metal Gear Solid 4
3. Dead Space
4. Star Wars: The Force Unleashed
5. Gears Of War 2
6. Rainbow Six Vegas 2
7. Grand Theft Auto 4
8. Battlefield: Bad Company
9. Tomb Raider: Underworld
10. FIFA 09
Any of my Top 3 could have taken the number 1 spot, as all 3 were outstanding.
Fallout 3 is one of the most atmospheric games I've ever played & I've chalked up 100+ hours on it.
MGS4 - Best graphics I've ever scene on a console & despite the daft-in-places story & the boss battles not being as strong as MGS3, it is still a worthy finale to the story of Solid Snake
Dead Space was the surprise package for me in 2008. Normally when you see the EA logo on a non-sports game you stay well clear, but the great visuals, tense atmosphere & solid gameplay make it a serious contender to Resident Evil & Silent Hill in the survival-horror genre. It's THAT good.
Star Wars: TFU also surprised me. After reading all the negative reviews, I was pleasantly surprised (& relieved) that most of the reviewers got it wrong. The story was exceptional & involving: probably the best story in any game in 2008. Yes the targetting system had it's flaws, but it didn't ruin the downright fun gameplay (Using the Force to pick up Stormtroopers & impale them with your lightsaber in mid-air never gets old.
Gears 2 & Rainbow Six Vegas 2 were decent sequels, but weren't much different to the originals.
GTA4 felt like a bit of a step back for the series. I felt Rockstar took too much out of the game. There were not as many weapons, no planes, couldn't customise your cars. Also the missions were pretty much all the same: Drive here, kill this guy, escape from police. The missions didn't have the variety that San Andreas & Vice City had. However Liberty City looked tremendous & it was great just cruising around, bumping in to random people, or going on a killing spree to see how long you could last.
Battlfield: Bad Company was one of the better military FPS shooters I've played. Far longer & FAR BETTER than the woefully overrated Call of Duty games.
Tomb Raider Underworld is the best-looking Tomb Raider so far. The levels were well done, but they were a bit too easy to get through (compared to the earlier games) With a bit of tweaking, a bit more thought into the puzzles & removal of the stupid storyline, this could have been the best Tomb Raider of the series. It is still good though & worth a play through.
FIFA 09 - The last FIFA I bought was World Cup 98 for the PS1. Then I switched to the Pro Evo football games. But since Pro Evo 3, the games have been getting worse with each release & Pro Evo 6 was abysmal. I'd all but given up on football games until my Xbox 360 broke & I had to get a new one that came with FIFA 09. It plays just like a more refined version of the old Pro Evo games, but with better graphics & sound AND the official FIFA license with proper team & player names. A welcome comeback for the FIFA games.
Fable 2 & Prince of Persia could also have made my Top 10...... but I haven't got round to playing them yet !!! Both are in my collection. Fable 2 is still sealed & I'm just about to start Prince Of Persia. So much to play, so little time......