I’m one of those people that get really tired and angry when I come across sexism and a condescending attitude towards people based on their gender. And let’s face it, it happens to women more than men (as in women are more often objectified than men - IN GENERAL, not always). It affects men too as they have to live with this is much as us women, they have to put up with those men that have opinions that don’t match their own - but still somehow becomes representative for them, as MEN. Not people, but men as an opposite to women. I know they exist, those genuinly good guys that do their share of the work around the house, they pick up the kids after school, they don’t encourage their girlfriends to have plastic surgery and they don’t think it’s ok to treat women worse than men solely because they are women. Some people actually manage to treat other people as just people. Persons. Other human beings worth respecting due to that simple fact.
But still…not everyone agrees with this.
Women do make less money than men, they stay home with the kids and drive them to soccer practice and help them with their homework, they do most of the laundry, cooking and cleaning (and everything else that needs to be done at home) and they are the ones constantly being portrayed as toys, eye candy for the guys, on page 3. And yes, it annoys me.
But what has all of this got to do with games? Well, first of all, how are women portrayed in games? Like on page 3 most of the time. Long hair gently floating on the virtual wind, a waist so thin she would barely be able to stand up if this was the real deal, high heels (not the ultimate fighting shoe, trust me), long legs and huge breasts. Like Barbie, with less clothes. I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but most of us women don’t look like that.
This stereoype avatar chick bugs me for more than one reason:
1. I want to be able to relate to my avatar. That’s extremely difficult when I don’t look anything like her. It’s not just that the haircolor is wrong - she might as well be of another spieces than me! How can I get into the game and focus on the story when that Playboy bunnie lookalike is in the way like a constant reminder of what I’m NOT?
2. I have a daughter. Guess what I don’t want her to experience? The constant disappointment in herself and the way she looks that those “ideals” bring. She already hates herself for eating - let’s not make it worse.
But let’s be fair - men are also treated as stereoype morons by the gaming industry. How many of your closest friends would fit in Gears of war? Or are as agile and handsome as the persian prince?
I can already hear your argument - “but I don’t want it to be realistic! I want to be able to run on walls or dodge bullets! That’s the POINT!” And fine, I agree. That’s why I read books or get goose bumps from every Kung Fu movie ever made, to escape from reality and live in a another world for a while where my powers are endless. Of course I love it. But I don’t want to be Pamela A in Barbwire. I’d rather be Natalie P. in V for Vendetta. Or Milla J. in Resident Evil. They’re strong and cool and still look like real people.
Where are the realistic heroes and why are they so hard to find? What’s so wrong with being normal? Visually and graphically that is. I’d still love to have powers beyond all imagination.
So - why do we keep making the same game over and over again? (looking forward to the 4756th FPS with gloomy skies and men the size of King Kong, with some princess to save or hooker to use?) Why does the industry to a devastatingly majority consist of men between 20-30? Why are women still out of the tech loop? Why would most game developers rather shoot themselves in the foot than develop games intended mainly for women or children? Why aren’t we getting anywhere?
The whole idea with this post was to come up with some critique of the game industry itself and how we approach these issues. I’m not gonna end this post with an answer, or a final say on the matter. There’s a lot more to be said on the subject, more theories and possible explanations and ideas. Let’s get back to them sometime.