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Video games and Male Gaze - are we men or boys?

GamaSutra - I won't pretend to be above biology: I like boobs and butts as much as the next hot-blooded heterosexual male. They're just about the most aesthetically pleasing configurations of fat and muscle you can find on a person, and I am far from being immune to their charms. But women are a lot more than boobs and butts. That may seem obvious, but the game industry and its fans are demonstrating their ignorance of that fact time and time again.

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-Mezzo-1271d ago

Definitely boys.

Just take N4G into perspective and you'll know that i'm right, uninteresting & irrelevant stories getting heated up just because the Thumbnail is of a semi-nude female.

Many contributors have been exploiting this just to gain the heat on their stories.

KangarooSam1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

This article by about mid-day tomorrow: 600°, at least.

And I agree with the whole exploitation aspect. I pointed out a Kotaku article the other day that had a provocative picture of Jessica Nigri and within a few minutes it was changed to a slightly less provocative photograph of Geoff Keighley. Kind of disappointed in gaming journalists. (mainly Kotaku).

Edit: I will also admit that it's somewhat sad I knew that was Miranda's butt in the photograph. But then again, most hardcore gamers would, I suppose. Those shots were more attention grabbing than half the action sequences in Mass Effect 2 lol.

-Mezzo-1271d ago

I can understand if the picture used in the thumbnail is the same one from the Article, but taking time to go search for a Provocative image to use is just low.

ravinash1271d ago

The article is a good read, don't let the thumbnail (which is relevant to the subject) distract you from what the article is trying to say.

DragonKnight1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

I'm sorry but if anyone thinks "men" don't look at women then that's the height of naivety. The difference between men and boys isn't looking, it's in how they look. Everyone looks, everyone likes to look at attractive women (even other women) and if someone tells you otherwise (unless they're gay) then I'll show you a liar. I'm not saying that this is "right" or "wrong" I'm saying it just is and isn't a big deal. We have eyes for looking, libido for lusting, why whine about both being used?

Hydralysk1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

The difference versus creative media and real life is that we aren't just looking, we're shaping the character into whatever we want. There's nothing wrong with having a libido, but having the entire industry assume we are dominated by our libido, assuming we can't like or relate to a female character unless she's some kind of sexy action girl, is just as demeaning to men as it is to women.

If it was an issue in just a few games, then I'd agree it isn't a big thing to fuss over, but this is rampant in our media nowadays.

The people making these arguments aren't prudes, they're not saying being, or looking at, something sexy is somehow wrong or bigoted in and of itself, but when their attractiveness has become an acceptable substitute for characterization we have a problem.

DragonKnight1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

Here's the thing Hydra, the only reason why the perception that the "entire industry" is being judged that way exists because of those people who make a big deal out of it and take simple biology and blow it out of proportion. Then you have people like Anita Sarkeesian who is very much saying having attractive characters is wrong (if they're women). But think about it in all honesty. Would you want to play a game as a person with acne, bad hair, and a degenerative bone condition? If the problem is an attractive character with a sh*t personality then A)That's normally how real life is and B)The focus should be on the bad personality or lack of one instead of the characters looks.

It's really not a big deal until someone makes it one, and usually the ones making it one either have an agenda, or a personality disorder themselves.

Hydralysk1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

Would I want to play a person with bad acne or bone degeneration? Sure, if you could work that into a compelling narrative, that's good ground for drama, I'd love to see a game where you play Joker from ME. In general, people in TVs/Movies/Games being well groomed/able bodied is something that has always been around, and is also far from the point I am making. I'm not saying our protagonists should necessarily be ugly, I'm saying their attractiveness shouldn't be their defining trait.

A) I'm not talking about a character with a sh*t personality. I'm talking about characters with little to no personality, a cardboard cutout in the shape of a human female. I also object to your statement, that being attractive in real life means you most likely have a shallow personality. It's a possibility, as being good looking is usually a boon in life, but you're making a pretty grand generalization.

B)There are stories that do just that and work well, this is a great way to work attractiveness into a personality without the it BEING the personality. Beautiful antagonists with rotten personalities are a common archetype. A villain obssesed with vanity is something we can all recognize and oversexualizing them to emphasize that trait of their character is a great idea. You can't focus on a lack of personality because you can't make something that doesn't exist compelling. You can make her visually attractive but that isn't what me and a lot of other people want out of their female characters.

I also like how the main response to this is "It's not a big deal", as if your perspective is undeniably right. People value different things, as long as that is true, what is and isn't a big deal is based both on their culture and individual beliefs. Handwaving the issue because it doesn't conform to your view of the world and priorities, and then insinuating I have a shady agenda or mental problems because of my views isn't something I appreciate.

coolbeans1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

-"Then you have people like Anita Sarkeesian who is very much saying having attractive characters is wrong (if they're women)."

There's yet to be a quote from her saying {any} attractive women in games is wrong. It's the redundant nature of an industry that makes her question if it's all cheap pandering, misogyny, and stories including women that consistently fail the Bechdel test.

-"Would you want to play a game as a person with acne, bad hair, and a degenerative bone condition?"

I don't think anyone is asking for the opposite of 10/10 character models, just ones that stay more consistently in the realm of real life.

-"It's really not a big deal until someone makes it one, and usually the ones making it one either have an agenda, or a personality disorder themselves."

Would anyone be at fault for questioning if you have one?

-You grab the lowest hanging fruit, with Sarkeesian, and stretch what her complaints might actually be.

-Make inane questions to counter anyone wondering "what's with the industry's typical use of women?"

- EDIT: ...and belittle another poster's intelligence, as if that's the only way you can get your point across.

-"I'm not saying that this is 'right' or 'wrong' I'm saying it just is..."

Neutrality just means you're in favor of the status quo.

DragonKnight1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

-So if attractive, well-groomed people have been around forever in these mediums, why is it a problem?

A)That's the same thing as a sh*t personality. Also, I don't really care if your lack of reading comprehension skills creates a moment of offense for you. I said it was normal because it is. There are so many good looking people with sh*tty personalities that it's a sociological cliche. Nowhere did I say, or imply, that EVERY good looking person is like that, I said it's normal. Understand now?

B)Completely irrelevant. You're changing the issue. The problem is with good looking characters when it SHOULD be about their personalities. Who cares how they look or that people like looking at them? That isn't a problem that's biology and why our race exists today. You don't want an attractive character in your game? That's fine. Stop b*tching then about their appearance and instead b*tch about their personality since that seems to be the real problem. But you're not even complaining about the real problem. You're upset that they don't have personality and take it out on people who like their appearance. It's ridiculous.

I like how you moved into arrogant, "i'm going to white knight for culture" attack mode. It literally is not a big deal. That isn't my opinion, that isn't me trying to state my opinion is a fact, that is BIOLOGICAL FACT. Our minds are hardwired to be attracted to attractive people. It's a system put in place to ensure reproduction. Getting upset over biology is the same as getting upset over the sky being blue because your culture thinks blue is an evil colour. It's a researchable fact that people that have a problem with attractive people in the media have one of 3 reasons for said problems. 1. They are political morons latching on to an issue to seem like they care. 2. They have a personality/self-image problem they are taking out on the world. 3. They have a prudish mind as the result of upbringing that can trace its roots back to one of the 2 problems. I don't really care what offends you, but if it's not a big deal then it's not a big deal and you're just making yourself look like a whiner for nothing.

@coolbeans: now how did I know you'd be in here championing the "no more attractive people in games" fight.

-So now we can't draw on her actions and need a direct statement to know the truth? There is no misogony or pandering. For god's sake a woman is the lead writer for the Tomb Raider reboot and look what she did to Lara Croft? Oh but I'm sure the men are forcing her to do all of it right?

-If people wanted real life, why would they play games? Games are about escapism.

-If I have an agenda? Oh yes, my stating a biological fact is just a cover for an agenda to stop feminists and their white knights from whining about more "normal" women not appearing in games in the wake of female lead writers and many "normal" female characters all over the gaming industry. /s

"-You grab the lowest hanging fruit, with Sarkeesian, and stretch what her complaints might actually be."

Observed fact. No stretching at all. Her outlines themselves prove my points.

Nope, sorry. It's a legitimate question. No definition of what a "normal" woman has ever been made to satisfy people like you.

And why wouldn't I be? See, I play games, not politics or unnecessary offenses. The problem with the world today is that people have too much time on their hands and just get offended by every little thing. Why should I be offended by things that aren't a big deal and have literally no impact on the real world unless people grant them the power to?

Tonester9251271d ago

CGI titties and booty lol! OMG So hot!! All big and bouncy when I walk around and make the camera zoom in while she's walking around. haha!

ravinash1271d ago

No one is denying that they enjoy the female form, however the problem that their highlighting is that the games industry as a whole is very sexist for the people who want to come in and join in, the people who try to work in the industry and the casual observer who sees games today.

In the article it talks about women who work in the industry that when thy are introduced to other people, the first assumption is that they work in PR.
If there is a general idea in the industry that women can't be part of the creating process within games, then there really is a big problem.

People often complain that no one is coming up with any new ideas for games, do you think that blocking 51% of the population from becoming games creators is going to help that?
If it remains the same it will be more guys, more firepower, more shot'em ups...more of the same old thing.
Maybe what this industry needs is a female perspective to help come up with some new ideas.

If Boobs sell, then they will keep on selling, so you don't need to worry about females coming in an ruining you fun. It's more the idea about how women are treated in real life is what worries me.

coolbeans1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

-"now how did I know you'd be in here championing the 'no more attractive people in games' fight."

Given that I've never championed something like that, I haven't the slightest clue. I'm willing to guess that expectation comes from me having to challenge your arrogance of months past.

-"So now we can't draw on her actions and need a direct statement to know the truth? There is no misogony or pandering. For god's sake a woman is the lead writer for the Tomb Raider reboot and look what she did to Lara Croft? Oh but I'm sure the men are forcing her to do all of it right?"

That anecdote doesn't disprove the entire picture of either (possible) misogyny or pandering. By cheap pandering, I'm addressing a public complaint at the possible redundancies of how female characters are marketed to the general public.

-"If people wanted real life, why would they play games? Games are about escapism."

Are not movies, TV shows, etc. about the same thing? A reason why they can be so engaging is "the human element" and placing real identities on characters instead of falling into the "smexy" tropes.

-"If I have an agenda? Oh yes, my stating a biological fact is just a cover for an agenda to stop feminists and their white knights from whining about more "normal" women not appearing in games in the wake of female lead writers and many "normal" female characters all over the gaming industry. /s"

It's tough to determine which area to dismantle first. First, you shoe-horned in the "biological fact" part b/c I never stated anything against that. Second, your ignorance as to what's been examined about the issue of "more normal female in games."

Several female writers, game creators, etc. have expressed their annoyance in seeing storytelling tropes of females across some magazine publications as well. As stated before, not many games with women pass the Bechdel Test.

-"Observed fact. No stretching at all. Her outlines themselves prove my points."

This invariably proves my point. You have no quote of her "very much saying" all attractive women have to go.

-"And why wouldn't I be? See, I play games, not politics or unnecessary offenses. The problem with the world today is that people have too much time on their hands and just get offended by every little thing. Why should I be offended by things that aren't a big deal and have literally no impact on the real world unless people grant them the power to?"

http://n4g.com/user/blogpos...

* You whining about something as irrelevant as GaymerCon*

The defense rests!

Hydralysk1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

"So if attractive, well-groomed people have been around forever in these mediums, why is it a problem?"

Never said it was, like I said it when their attractiveness becomes the definining point of their character that I have a problem.

A) Is that a sociological cliche or a storytelling cliche though? In stories this trope is very common, in real life, past high school, I've seen good looking people with great personalities, as well as less attractive people with despicable views, you're attempting to use a cliche/stereotype as proof that it is the norm, they are two VERY different things.

B) How was I changing the issue? You're telling me to "b*tch" about their personalities instead of how they look, while calling my argument irrelevant when that is what I'm doing. I was never attacking the characters on the basis of them being attractive, as I'd stressed before, but because their attractiveness is usually seen as an acceptable substitute to having a well defined character. And yes, I am upset that they don't have personality and instead are used as simple eye candy. I was under the impression that was the topic up for debate.

First of all, I don't think you know what 'literally' means. So women in media can't be criticized for having no personality because it's a 'biological fact' that we like looking at them? Now who's the one changing the subject? That has absolutely no connection to anything! Yes we like to have sex, we like looking at attractive members of the opposite (or same) sex, but the argument you're making is that since we're horny due to biological urges then we should always be prioritizing satisfying those urges. I'm not ashamed when I get turned on, but I'm made up of more than my biological imperative to reproduce, I have values, ideals and laws which are sometimes at odds with my biological imperatives. Those define who I am more than my libido.

Once again you can't argue why attractiveness is a viable substitute for character development/portrayal, and attempt to disguise that with "researchable facts" that supposedly confirm I have one of 3 mental problems for holding my opinion. Thus by being associated with mental people, this somehow objectively proves that it's not a big deal, impressive debate skills there. Not that I should expect much more when debating on the internet...

liquidhalos1271d ago

Very well said DragonKnight, sometimes i dont understand why people bring rubbish like this up

Bimkoblerutso1271d ago (Edited 1271d ago )

I'm totally with Hydra here (bunch of bubbles for you, btw). I enjoy looking at attractive ladies as much as the next guy, but the industry almost always treats attractiveness and sexuality as exploitation rather than an aesthetic.

It's not that I don't think attractiveness should exist within a game, but it should not exist contrary to context. Alyx Vance, for example, is attractive and interesting and memorable and *gasp* does it without wearing a dominatrix outfit...

Yet, when you read any article about Lara Croft (an old example, but still fairly relevent) do you EVER read anything about her that mentions anything besides her sex appeal? No. She is literally NOTHING else.

TheRealHeisenberg1271d ago

Well said DragonKnight. I completely agree with all of your comments on this topic.

+ Show (9) more repliesLast reply 1271d ago
Septic1271d ago

Is it ironic that I clicked on this for the picture?

Shame on me :(

-Mezzo-1271d ago

No, No Shame in this. :D

Klonopin1271d ago

Is that you Mezzo behind the Brad Pitt avatar?

-Mezzo-1271d ago

It is, it is me.

( I Have Had That Avatar, Since The First Day I Joined N4G, Back In Late 2008 )

GameSpawn1271d ago

My comment will probably go unnoticed, but I can break this down to a few things -- demographics and a good old phrase.

The average "gamer" audience is male and around the ages 16-25. It's a sad but true fact that these two demographics make up most of their respective demographics categories.

This all plays into the second point and the real reason for the "male gaze" -- "Sex sells". This phrase is it. This is the explanation. No reason for debate. You know it. I know it. We all know it. Sex will sell, so if the medium's demographic is mostly male then you'll see MANY provocative females being utilized to push the medium and its related material. The reverse is also true for female demographic dominated mediums where provocative men would be used to push something geared for women's tastes.

As a straight male I cannot give you good examples for female demographics where this is the case, because again for the same reason this method attracts specific groups to a medium it can have an obverse effect on the opposite (the minority) demographic -- so for female "sex sells" examples I'm the minority and ignore many of the cases.

xyyyr1271d ago

Don't worry Mezzo I get the joke!

rainslacker1270d ago

Wasn't this same story posted six months ago when it was originally written on gamasutra? I recognized the first line in the article, but I don't know how to search for older stories by description.

+ Show (4) more repliesLast reply 1270d ago
MultiConsoleGamer1271d ago

A lot of the T&A in video games is just pandering to a teenage male audience.

sashimi1271d ago

But most of the teenage male audience plays call of duty lol

Hydralysk1271d ago

And how many of them are routinely yelling for women online to "Get back in the kitchen"? Sexism = Funny is a cardinal rule of most online shooters I've found.

Baka-akaB1271d ago

So they say , but funny enough it's usually some "old men" getting lured by it .

When was the last time a game truly sold on T&A alone (obviously not talking about porn games) ?

DOA towned it down quite a lot , and still sold very well on the merit of being a solid fighting game . Hell for a while it was selling as much as Tekken tag 2.

And when you see stuff like OneChanbara getting released , it's not usually horny teens buying it at the local store , but at least 30 something dudes .

Hazmat131271d ago

a little bit of both, when it comes to real life and actions that follow we can be men, but in the world of video games gives you the chance at act like a foolish kid with nothing to lose. they bring out the nature of every man wanting to be a boy who is still young. as we grow my mind tends to drift into a abyss of life as its walls its starts to construct arounds the mind of freedom, maturity is more or less the words of man who felt he needed to show class above all in this world. wanting to be something when in the end you'll just be nothing but as a body in a box decaying. and now i must ruin this comment 69 LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL #SWAG YOLO!!!!!!!

Brian1rr1271d ago

I love feeling like a boy when I play games. I can take a break from my real life and enjoy a story

3-4-51271d ago

Men stare at butts too.

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