Are We Paying Too Much Attention to Gender When it Comes to Modern Gaming Protagonists?

There's always lot's of talk about the under-representation of women and female protagonists in gaming, but is it the main issue we should be discussing? APB's Sam argues otherwise.

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staticdash221496d ago

Yep. I feel like we're paying too much attention to social stuff that often sparks debates and controversy. We need to judge whether or not said characters are a great addition to their games, whether or not they bring something dynamic or interesting. Not whether they are a specific race or gender.

raWfodog1495d ago

To me, race or gender only matters if its story or setting specific or relevant. For example, GTA: San Andreas only works with a black male character because its story revolved around fictional black gangs in a west coast state.

But, generally speaking, a good storyline can be catered to fit almost any race or gender.

SegaGamer1496d ago

I never even think about it to be honest. I don't understand why it matters.

admiralvic1496d ago

"I don't understand why it matters."

It doesn't matter until someone says it matters.

As I've explained in the past, the people pointing it out are typically the sexist / racist / whatever people. Most people don't look at Mario and think he is saving Princess Peach by some ego driven conquest to reclaim his property because he is male and she is female, they look at it as a lazy justification to have a new adventure and fight bowser.

The same is true for a lot of games, media and such. There isn't always negative connotations for why whatever thing happens. Sometimes XYZ feels for ABC reason (suited their story, matched their theme, plot demanded it) and these concepts never entered their mind. So bringing it up, doesn't always mean that there is something to bring up. Furthermore, what these people are fighting for isn't acceptance, but tolerance.

You don't gain anything by forcing people to mimic Captain Planet (kids of different genders and races working together to save the world), because the world doesn't work that way. You shouldn't instantly accept an Asian Woman, simply because you don't have one, just like you shouldn't reject a White Male, because you got too many of them. It's all counter productive and these people could instead of looking for problems, simply search for solutions.

SpiralTear1496d ago

Isn't it better to not signify someone based on their gender? Isn't a good way to create equally respectful representations of protagonists in any medium to ignore those differences and judge them based on the quality of their personality and character instead?

DragonKnight1496d ago

Isn't it better to just enjoy the game and stop worrying about equality in a fictional world that doesn't apply to the real world?

SpiralTear1496d ago

I'm sorry, but judging from your comments on this issue, you seem to think that the world of media is completely separate from reality. That's not how art of any medium works. The things that people create in literature, paintings, sculptures, film, television, music and games are not made in a realm that is unconnected from reality.

Picasso created Guernica to show the damage of war in protest. Paul Simon contributed to ending apartheid in South Africa with African-inspired music. Art has physical effects and it is linked to reality.

Do I think gender representation in games is something that needs to be addressed like this? No, I already said that doesn't. But I do firmly believe that art in media has an effect on the real world.

DragonKnight1496d ago

The world of media IS separate from reality. A specific work may comment on reality, but it ISN'T reality. No game, no character in a game, and no representation of a gender has any impact on the real world or any person in the real world UNLESS THEY CHOOSE TO LET IT HAVE AN IMPACT.

You seem to think that a game like Mario can make people actually think women are stupid and will never be able to take care of themselves if kidnapped. NO ONE THINKS THAT.

Art doesn't have physical effects. It has the ability, if specifically designed to do so, to impact emotionally and that's all. Any physical effect comes from a choice made by the individual, not born from a game or a painting or a song.

To say that art has an effect on the real world is to say that gaming can cause violence and school shootings. If you truly believe that, then wow...

SpiralTear1496d ago

So humans are strong enough to create something important through games, but (when applied to the examples I showed) they're weak enough to succumb to its influence? That means that the art is overpowering the creator AND its audience? That doesn't make any sense.

And even under your logic, you still haven't disproven my point: that the art DID SOMETHING. It caused an emotional response which contributed to that physical effect. The fact that there was a physical and recordable effect means that these realms are not exclusionary. They are in fact connected.

I'm just following your lead, man. I'm deriving this comment's content from what you yourself provided.

DragonKnight1496d ago

That's right, it doesn't make sense, because that's not what I said.

Look, I'm just going to break it down as simply as I can.

The idea that art in media impacts reality is to make the claim that art, or in this case games, has the capacity to be the direct cause of violence, sexism, murder, etc...

Studies have already proven that to be false.

Your logic, funnily enough, is a better descriptor of that being "weak enough to succumb to it" problem than mine is. The idea that media impacts life is the idea that humanity has no control over their emotions, or their actions, when experiencing a form of art if we go by that logic.

Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. You will never find a person who plays a game with an allegedly poor representation of women who then mistreats women because of said game. You will never find a person who will shoot up some location filled with people because they were driven to do it by a video game.

That's just science. Individuals who do these things have preexisting mental issues and would have committed these acts regardless.

Emotional impacts resultant from media are purely transference and empathy.

SpiralTear1496d ago

Look, man, if you don't agree with me, that's fine. That's the point of a discussion, but when you start throwing out the insults, that's where the whole side of the argument starts to come apart. Please don't start name-calling just because you disagree with my views. If you really think that your view is 100% right all the time, fine, but at least have the courtesy to be respectful in a discussion.

"Direct cause"? I did not say direct cause. Direct cause is a derived method of science, saying this causes this, which causes this. That's how scientific laws are developed; the result was common enough to be accepted as law.

I did not say that art will always affect something the same way every time. I did say that media can do something in reality. If games didn't do something, whether it's significant or not, there would be no point in playing. Without the games, the empathy can't exist, since you aren't empathizing with anything; it's non-existent empty space. Once again, there's a connection with games.

Enjoying a game is an effect. You are performing an action in response to the game's content. There's a connection between you and the game. If you could get the same personal reaction without the game, then why have the game at all? The point is that the game affects you. The game has meaning and agency. It did something.

That's the point that I'm making: that games can do something.

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rextraordinaire1496d ago

Depends of the subject matter.

Take games like Catherine. It would not have been possible if the protagonist was a woman. Slight spoilers: The pregnancy bomb. That part of the story can only really work with characters of specific genders.

But for some games it's not important:
Lara Croft or Nathan Drake are pretty much interchangeable if you ask me. Same for say, Lightning and Cloud, or Dante and Bayonetta.

What I mean is: If the goal of you're game is a story in which gender plays a role, give some thought about how you represent those. If it's not important, go crazy and have fun.

spartanlemur1496d ago

Most if us aren't . Attention-seekers mention it all the time just to get article hits. The arrogance of people telling us that our opinion is wrong and we need to change is unbelievable. Those people need to get off their high horses and realise that more often than not, they're preaching to the choir.

Generally, the demographic of the main protagonists will reflect te demographics of the user base, which is natural, given we generally all want to play someone who looks somewhat like ourselves. It's not sexist, but natural for this to happen (is it sexist that women like to read novels with female protagonists?).

Anyway, I don't want to drag on and become a hypocrite, as I believe I've made my point. The fact most protagonists are male isn't sexist, but natural given the makeup of the player-base. Expect this to change if the number of female gamers playing "hardcore" games surges for whatever reason.

SpideySpeakz1496d ago

Wait, bit confused here. The article states it's against putting females as main protagonist for the sake of social justice - which I agree. However...

You just made two critical contradictions in your statement. You say demographic reflect the main protagonist, but nearly half of gamers are women - which the article stated. Then why most protagonist are male, or are they?

The other contradiction, you stated below, that characters should relate to the user base - which are white males - but the whole point of the article was to show that pulling a certain sex/race/nationality for the sake of whatever is a bad idea in general, that includes white males. We should base a character on whether it fits the role.

What you're saying is that every character should be white American males because the main demographic (proven false) is white American males. Yes, you're a hypocrite.

spartanlemur1495d ago

Yes, half of gamers (roughly are women), but the vast majority of these play casual games. A more useful measure would be the demographics of how many women play console or PC games (excluding Nintendo Wii) and then also multiplying this by the average amount of money they spend (given we live in a fair, capitalist society - committed gamers spend more money on their games).

Also, while I do accept the argument about "fitting the setting", this only really applies to games with a strong emphasis on story, and niches.
If a setting has not been done much (Freedom Cry could only be done with Adewale) then yes, use a woman or minority for the story.
Even then, people still relate more to a character of their gender (which is why, as I say on another post, most women prefer to read novels with a female protagonist). People like to imagine theirselves as the main character, and the more they look like the player, the greater this immersion is.

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