290°
Submitted by -Mezzo- 604d ago | opinion piece

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. (Culture)

-Mezzo-  +   604d 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.
KangarooSam  +   604d 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.
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-Mezzo-  +   604d 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.
ravinash  +   604d 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.
DragonKnight  +   604d 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?
#1.2 (Edited 604d ago ) | Agree(27) | Disagree(6) | Report | Reply
Hydralysk  +   604d 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.
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DragonKnight  +   604d 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.
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Hydralysk  +   604d 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.
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coolbeans  +   604d 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.
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DragonKnight  +   604d 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?
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Tonester925  +   604d 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!
ravinash  +   604d 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.
coolbeans  +   604d 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!
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Hydralysk  +   604d 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...
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liquidhalos  +   604d ago
Very well said DragonKnight, sometimes i dont understand why people bring rubbish like this up
Bimkoblerutso  +   604d 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.
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TheRealHeisenberg  +   604d ago
Well said DragonKnight. I completely agree with all of your comments on this topic.
Septic  +   604d ago
Is it ironic that I clicked on this for the picture?

Shame on me :(
-Mezzo-  +   604d ago
No, No Shame in this. :D
Klonopin  +   604d ago
Is that you Mezzo behind the Brad Pitt avatar?
-Mezzo-  +   604d ago
It is, it is me.

( I Have Had That Avatar, Since The First Day I Joined N4G, Back In Late 2008 )
GameSpawn  +   604d 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.
xyyyr  +   604d ago
Don't worry Mezzo I get the joke!
rainslacker  +   604d 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.
MultiConsoleGamer  +   604d ago
A lot of the T&A in video games is just pandering to a teenage male audience.
sashimi  +   604d ago
But most of the teenage male audience plays call of duty lol
Hydralysk  +   604d 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-akaB  +   604d 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 .
Hazmat13  +   604d 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!!!!!!!
Brian1rr  +   604d ago
I love feeling like a boy when I play games. I can take a break from my real life and enjoy a story
3-4-5  +   604d ago
Men stare at butts too.
Fakdafakinfakerz  +   604d ago
We are big boys.
Nada Nuff  +   604d ago
Sexism in movies.....(shrug)
Sexism in comics.....(shrug)
Sexism in music.....(shrug)
Sexism in video games....."You're all a bunch of perverts."

Why the double standard?
Tonester925  +   604d ago
Lol maybe because it's computer graphics and polygons that you can control zoom in 360 view and stare as long as you want. It's different. lol
XTGamers  +   604d ago
Well .. most men won't complain about breast implants ... i mean i know they are fake, but still, if they're well made, it sure is nice to look at. Its basically the same with games, it may be fake but if its real enough, we're biologically programmed to look ..
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Baka-akaB  +   604d ago
Last i checked people constantly complain about that for comics . Hell DC's successful reboot had two controversial item (catwoman and starfire from " Red hood and the outlaws" ) being quite discussed among readers and in the comics blogosphere .
Nada Nuff  +   597d ago
You are likely more connected to that fandom, but I personally don't hear anyone complaining about comic chicks. Most of them wear spandex bodysuits with most of their bodies hanging out and it's accepted. Like the other mediums I mentioned, it's a male-dominated industry and people look the other way.
Nes_Daze  +   604d ago
I understand liking the usual sexy girl in a game that kicks ass, but as others have said, when it gets in the way of a good narrative, or the character's own development, it just doesn't feel needed. We live in a society(Western) where female beauty is literally advertised as perfection. And in video games developers know some people will get lured into a game if it has a sexy female character.
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GraveLord  +   604d ago
Wow @ that pic. I'm sure that will get changed..
MattyG  +   604d ago
This seems to be a big problem with the industry as a whole, and I've noticed its quite an issue with N4G. The slightest cleavage in a thumbnail and its 1000 degrees. An article that is well writen and truly deserves views gets posted with a less sexual image and it barely gets 50 degrees. It's all very frustrating and discouraging to know that my peers think and act this way ( please note that I am not saying I'm not to blame. I'm sure I've clicked those articles before, and I'm not proud of that. I also realize there are many gamers here who don't behave this way, but sadly the majority does.
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ShaunCameron  +   604d ago
Men, unlike the self-hater who wrote the article.
#11 (Edited 604d ago ) | Agree(0) | Disagree(2) | Report | Reply
Theangrybogan  +   604d ago
Would be nice if we could live in a perfect world where everyone gets treated with dignity and respect all the time. But we can't. Deal with it.

Go make "plain Jane the wonder brain the game" and see how it sells.

Oddly no one seems to notice that men are just as sexualised in the media as women these days, it's sexist and wrong when its tits and ass, but perfectly acceptable when its six-packs, pecs and.... ass.
madjedi  +   603d ago
Yeah it just makes their agenda, that much easier to push on us when you can ignore certain damning facts.

I like strong well developed female characters, not particularly interested in listening to the fascinating political/social bs, people drag into gaming to enlighten us.

Get better characters in general(personality wise), then you can nit pick the hell out of every female character that isn't portrayed as a perfect example of a modern woman/feminist ect.

That isn't visually exploited to the pander to the horny teenage male audience ect, which is a slap to strong willed educated women every(truly a unforgivable sin).

I'll enjoy more life like, female characters that resembles the various types of womens personalities/quirks in real life.

You social and political commentators can continue to nit pick on how female characters in gaming are still being exploited ect to your hearts continent.

Might want to notice at some point every industry does this type of market pandering, show me one modern commercial workout advertisement, where the people working are overweight or not remotely attractive looking.

If women feel they are being judged by an impossible to live up to visual standard, how do you think the average guy feels. I really wish it was as lean and fit as kratos or even a generic military character in a fps game.

So sorry to tell you females, but you don't have an exclusive on being forced to live up to an unrealistic standard in regards to video games vs real life.
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mochachino  +   604d ago
Whatever the content of the game, no one looks particularly manly playing videogames for recreation. Not saying it's immature, just a fun largely meaningless hobby.

There are A LOT of amazing female singers and actors out there that will never get a real chance at stardom because their not attractive enough. Hollywood and the music industry filter out the average looking as much as possible, why should games be any different. They're all entertainment mediums.

Look at Nathan Drake and Commander Shepherd, the latter of which is based on a former male super model. It's not like games are full of skinny average looking guys. In fact, almost every male game character would have a great body in real life. Is it sexist if it's equally exploitative. Riddle me that mofo.
ninjahunter  +   604d ago
Ugh, being a "man" is boring, Im a grown boy :P
TheBaseFight  +   603d ago
Most of the guys in video games pay attention to girls interests as well. There usually all muscular, fit, and not ugly at all. I'm sure a girl would say that differently but, given that I am a dude I won't go out of my way to explain it. But, take League of Legends for example. I here about girls complaining and yapping on about the perfect body, boobs, butts on the league girls but, if you look at almost all the guy league characters, they aren't ugly. There what women want. We just don't care. Some of them think its offending. Girls in real life aren't perfect and they typically are in their looks in video game content but, most of us don't expect that of real life girls. If we can't have good looking women in games then why should we give them good looking dudes? Because in most video games its almost even. Lets make this clear: It goes both ways. We dudes just don't make a big deal about how every dude in video games looks better then us.
lfclee  +   603d ago
There will always be a boy in us men playing games.

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