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Female Characters and the State of Gaming Sexism

"Like clockwork, the controversy surrounding the prominence of female protagonists in video games is once again upon us. Another year of upcoming game releases means another group of space marines and grizzled combat bros." - David Jagneaux, Stealthy Box

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Fireseed1644d ago

I think this about sums up the problems http://lesstitsnass.tumblr....

Video game designers often lack the creativity in order to create dynamic and interesting women.I don't think that the portrayal of women in games where they're unnecessarily scantily clad is "oppressive" or "offensive" but rather a reflection of a bad artist. Honestly if I see a designer who is incapable of designing a female character aside from the a-typical hourglass figure, huge tits, and revealing clothing. I consider them just as incompetent as someone who traces anime. It often shows a deep understanding the mechanics of drawing, but a lack of understanding on the mechanics of design.

DragonKnight1644d ago

I don't think they lack creativity. I think they lack time. That former animator for AC3 proved exactly how a lot of studios would prefer to design in favour of reducing costs and saving time.

It's very easy to reskin a male model to make it LOOK female, it's harder to design, from scratch, a proper female model as opposed to a male model.

When we look at games that feature women as the protagonist, they are fairly well done and creative. When we look at games that feature a choice, that's where we see the designs being done in favour of speed and cost reduction.

Juste_Belmont1644d ago

That's a pretty broad statement to make, and if they lack creativity, then why are they being paid to design video games?

Fireseed1644d ago

I'd give ya the broad statement if I didn't specify to "a designer who is incapable of designing a female character aside from the a-typical hourglass figure, huge tits, and revealing clothing" but there are definetely devs out there who are very capable of designing interesting female characters (See Naughty Dog's Ellie, and Ubisoft's Jade).

And why do these people get paid to design games? Mostly cause of Tenure and lack of job appeal to those who should replace them.

It's not really something that the video game industry needs to do in order to stay viable... just something they should do because it improves the art form.

DragonKnight1644d ago (Edited 1644d ago )

*sigh*

http://en.wikipedia.org/wik...

http://dictionary.reference... (flawed definition as it emphasizes women, included simply for the sake of being thorough)

http://www.merriam-webster....

http://www.oxforddictionari...

Now, I've provided the 4 top results for the definition of sexism.

After reading those definitions, can anyone use facts to prove that women are purposely being held down and back from game development and as game characters due to the fact that they are women, and that it is a systematic, pervasive problem that affects life, game quality, and enjoyment? Or will the response be "the numbers are disproportionate so it's clearly sexism." If that's your answer, then you're wrong. What's clear is that that's a response to market conditions. How anyone could think that businesses largely dependent on public perception would make a concerted effort to alienate and annoy half the world's population and thereby risk half of their profits is beyond me.

"The ugly truth is that the same people that caused the industry to become such a male dominated space to begin with, are still in control."

Nobody "caused" the industry to become a male dominated space, men took more of a liking to gaming than women have from the very start, back when gender was indistinguishable in games and it was seen as a childish hobby for social outcasts. The reason it's male dominated simply stems from its origins, not due to an active effort to make it so.

These are businesses, they respond to market conditions. If it's proven that men buy more games of varying types than women, then the industry will largely cater to men. It's that simple.

And instead of complaining to developers, why not make your own GOOD games with the lead you want?

I really don't understand the attitude that "I want something, I don't want to do anything about it personally, so instead I'm going to bully someone else into doing it because it's what I want."

Although this article has a lot of apologetic "I'm sorry I'm a man" language, at least it's trying to show everyone that things have immensely changed from, say, the days of the NES to now.

Problem is is that's not good enough for a lot of people.

Fireseed1644d ago

What I love about this argument is how you inherently contradict yourself and yet are COMPLETELY oblivious to it.

"These are businesses, they respond to market conditions. If it's proven that men buy more games of varying types than women, then the industry will largely cater to men. It's that simple."

"I really don't understand the attitude that "I want something, I don't want to do anything about it personally, so instead I'm going to bully someone else into doing it because it's what I want.""

So you can't stand the idea of customers asking devs to make a game that makes them feel welcome. But you're completely fine with the idea that suits are telling devs what to make based of demographics. Riiight.

IcicleTrepan1644d ago

They make games based on how to get the most sales generally speaking. There are of course indie games that aren't concerned with that.

If you get 10k signatures asking for a female character in a game and you think you can make the game sell 2 million if you don't do what the 10k want, it's a no brainer

Gh05t1644d ago

You realize there is a huge difference between a fan (or random hater) saying "Make me this game because..." and a suit (as you like to call them) with a checkbook saying "Make me this game and ill pay you."

And the point is if there were enough customers asking for it then the "suit" would ask for a game like that anyways. That is how supply and demand works.

DragonKnight1644d ago (Edited 1644d ago )

@Fireseed: What I love is how the point flew over your head completely.

"So you can't stand the idea of customers asking devs to make a game that makes them feel welcome."

Wait, you actually think games don't already do that? You know, being available to absolutely everyone and running the gamut of various genres, stories, and characters?

Oh, you're one of those "disproportionate numbers proves _____" people aren't you?

I get it, you don't have an argument so you're going to try and appeal to emotional reasons. Too bad you're wrong on any factual level.

I'm completely fine with developers being allowed to make any game they want with any character they want. If they want to make 923149837 games with nothing but lesbian black women I'm not going to start hashtag campaigns of hate, vitriolic, propagandist articles written by fedora wearing neckbeards, and spew sexism/racism/_____'ism every chance I get.

I'm also not going to assume that a characters gender will do absolutely anything for the industry considering that women are still buying games with male leads anyway so obviously the quality of the game is separate from a character's gender or orientation.

And finally, I'm not going to be presumptuous enough to have the idea that creating games with more of _____ group/gender/ethnicity or whatever is necessary for the industry to mature and tackle adult subjects because those subjects don't even require having a human as a character.

Basically, I'm not going to tell developers that the game they want to make with the characters they want in the game is wrong because I feel that way. A good game is a good game regardless of such minor nonsense.

I WILL however start suggesting to developers to stop even using humans as characters at all and stop identifying any character as a gender. Stick to gender neutral shapes with robotic voices because then and only then will this nonsense end and people will finally understand that gender is irrelevant in games, save and except if the game is specifically designed for it to matter.

HighResHero1644d ago (Edited 1644d ago )

Typical nasty, hypocritical, bigoted bully behavior Fireseed. You can't come up with something coherent yourself so you go about attacking DragonKnight ad hominem and twisting his words.

spartanlemur1644d ago

DragonKnight isn't telling the devs to do anything. They're just explaining what the rational market action would be to take where "the customer is always right" holds.
If they devs are willing to take profit cuts to push social causes, well that's up to them, but they shouldn't be bullied into doing so by their audience in the same way they shouldn't be bullied into NOT doing so. If you disagree with a game's message or style, don't buy it at full price (or at all). If you do then get the deluxe edition.
From there we can start discussing among ourselves what we want from games critically without hassling the devs and putting them in situations where they'll get bullied regardless of what they do.
If people want to call GAMERS sexist for our purchasing decisions then that I can stomach, though I'd disagree for the most part. Calling devs themselves sexist ifor catering to their market is as ignorant and unfair as sexism itself (so hypocritical).

The fact is that big developers have market analysts these days to observe sales figures and determinants of them (methods including polling, statistical sales analysis and in some cases direct game choice feedback).

The only fair voices we have are our wallets, and be sure that if devs feel they can make more money with female protagonists, you'll be seeing a lot more of them in the future.

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Gh05t1644d ago

Right on the money. These people don't know the definition of the word but 'sexism' holds power and has a nice ring to it.

So they miss use it and rarely ever get called on it just like almost every other *ism.

Games4ever1644d ago

I'm SO tired of hearing how the portrayal of women are in games.

It's just bullshit,the purest bullsh*t.

HighResHero1644d ago (Edited 1644d ago )

It's usually mentally ill people with an agenda that have a problem with it. They politicize anything they can in order to suite their extremist, egocentric agenda. They go around throwing the term "bigot" around because it's in style, all the while having absolutely no tolerance to any view that they disapprove of. The definition of bigoted and hypocritical.
The problem is the Boy Who Cried Wolf effect. When there is a real problem and women need help, fewer people will take the situation seriously.

manman61644d ago

I getting tired of these articles talking about how there is not that many women characters in video games. I play game for the story and gameplay I don't play based on the sex of the character.

DragonKnight1644d ago

That is one awesome picture.

mydyingparadiselost1644d ago

A perfect definition of the 'problem' at hand. Honestly if any of these people care about the portrayal of women they would go after reality TV shows, that's where the portrayal of women is at its worst.

mixelon1644d ago

They do? People go after most of the mainstream media portrayals of women.

Gh05t1644d ago

I could be wrong here but isn't the definition of reality tv... TV about REALITY meaning that that is how the women REALLY are.

mydyingparadiselost1644d ago

@gho5t
I've met women, they're nothing like that at all. They're much, much worse :P

NegativeCreep4271644d ago

That picture and the text about Barbie just validates the more popular definition of a feminist, which is

Feminist: noun \ˈfe-mə-nest\

-A fat and/or stupid ugly b*tch on her period.

mixelon1644d ago

Loads of people complain about he-man And that (potentially) negative body image too.. And he's not as ubiquitous as barbie.. He was mostly an 80s excess thing.

IcicleTrepan1644d ago (Edited 1644d ago )

nobody cared about boys' and men's body image then and they don't now. Also it figures that this shitty article would appear on Father's day.

vivid831644d ago

I hardly hear any complaints about how men are potrayed in the media to be honest

mixelon1644d ago

"I haven't seen it therefor it doesn't exist"

Men's body image is ALWAYS brought up in discussions like this, as is steroid culture and pressure on young men to be buff, toned etc. People definitely care about it, I've been on both sides of the debate.

Anyway, false equivalence. He-man and co are buff because buff = physically strong. Barbie has no similar physical advantages.

Personally I like stylised stuff for both genders, as long as there are options. There are a lot more options on the male side.

DragonKnight1644d ago

mixelon: Who talks about it? You say people talk about it, so I want to know who specifically talks about it.

And Barbie's physical advantages are being blonde and relatively busty. That would get He-Man to do whatever she wanted.

JaggedCarpet1644d ago

mixelon:
"I haven't seen it, therefore it doesn't exist."

That's so true! After all, I know that YOU didn't exist until I came here and read your comment.

You're welcome.

mixelon1644d ago (Edited 1644d ago )

Dragonknight: Who? People? "Who" brings up the female side? What a bizarre question. You want me to give names? Psychologists, councellors, media commentators, random folk on the internet.

Just a quick google search will find hundreds of articles about negative male body image. https://www.google.co.uk/we...

I brought it up, I'm a person. :P Might i direct you to this comment thread over on Kotaku where a ton of angry men argue that "he-man is just as bad as barbie!" (This is where I ended up on the other side of the debate, as I really don't think He-man is AS potentially bad. I apparently made a bit of a mis-step, being dismissive like a lot of the commenters here. http://kotaku.com/forget-ba...

Mens image articles don't get as many hits from angry fans as the feminist slanted stuff so it doesn't get posted over to N4G, and it IS much rarer for people to comment on the male side because we're in the privileged position and we have an absolute ton of different male body types presented in games. Also, power fantasies, etc. I never said "an equal number" of people mention it.. That doesn't mean it isn't a recognised issue though.

Like I said. I like stylised stuff. I'm not for censoring or even necessarily changing anything. I do like the idea of more awareness in the industry and fanbases though.

"And Barbie's physical advantages are being blonde and relatively busty. That would get He-Man to do whatever she wanted." - Jeebus, I hope you're joking. That's the worst. That's definitely not what we should be enforcing in pre-schoolers, is it?

spartanlemur1644d ago (Edited 1644d ago )

Better to have realistic bodies (I mean, why train yourself to be attracted to that which you'll honestly never have in real
Life? Or never have while maintaining good health?) but proportioned so as to fit the realistic high-end of beauty standards of course! (Nice to have games full of beautiful people, male and female)

It would be cool to see armour weight be more of a choice for women and men. Cover up and protect yourself or (referring to men) fight He-man style (can't OTTOMH think of a female scantily clad warrior example) and gain respect boosts for bravery. Perhaps more revealing clothes would also boost charm+persuasion with the other sex (for men and women).

DragonKnight1644d ago

mixelon: Sorry but your examples aren't cutting it.

In your google search page, body image is being discussed from a health standard and isn't approached as being a societal problem the way feminists are claiming female body image is.

In your Kotaku example, the members of the page were arguing that one should be able to discern the difference between obvious fictional idealism and realistic pragmatism. Men weren't complaining that men were being unfairly objectified in gaming and how it's some massive problem, and in truth it was only brought up as a counter to the complaint of the female objectification argument.

In general, men don't care about the attempts at objectification (I also hate that word as it's incredibly inaccurate to make the claim that a person is being lusted after like an object) except for in very specific circumstances, and most of the time we won't even do any complaining about it then.

Gamers care when people's complaining attempts to change the industry for reasons that aren't even necessary, arising from non-issues. Male gamers only typically mention male body image to say "hey, if you think women are portrayed unrealistically, how many 6'4" steroidal meat heads that can bench press a truck do you know in real life?"

"Jeebus, I hope you're joking. That's the worst. That's definitely not what we should be enforcing in pre-schoolers, is it?"

No I'm not joking. And who said I was saying anything about "enforcing it in pre-schoolers?"

Women who are attractive know they are attractive and use it to their advantage. Barbie is no different. She's meant to embody idealism, not reality, but aspects of her still relate to reality.

mixelon1644d ago

Dragonknight: So you're one of those people who's argue that men are "objectified" in games in a similar way to women? Guys don't complain about that as it very rarely happens (in games). And even when it does, it's a small fraction of the wider male portrayal in our medium. The difference between a power fantasy and a sexual/sensual one are clear. You know this. I've seen your rants on this topic before. You have some unusual takes on some of the issues at hand.

"In your google search page, body image is being discussed from a health standard and isn't approached as being a societal problem the way feminists are claiming female body image is."
Actually, tons of the articles and comments you can find all over the web go on about it in a health and societal problem just like the women's side. The end result is pressure on kids of both sexes to live up to unrealistic standards, ending up with screwed body-image and self esteem issues. Girls end up with anorexia or other eating disorders, guys either end up with eating disorders or fitness complexes. (or so it goes)

Barbie is targeted at young girls. It's an aspirational toy. Some people have problems with elements of that. Only having girls toys that emphasise being passive and attractive is not helping girls minds moving forward. Certainly saying "well, you want to look like that because thats how women have power!" is playing into the screwed up system. "She's meant to embody idealism, not reality, but aspects of her still relate to reality." If male toys emphasise activity and physical strength, those are /generally/ aspirational, good things for your kids to be aiming towards (before the steroid/uber buff bit anyway). Boys have toys in multiple styles of multiple body shapes with multiple positive characteristics. Girls don't tend to get that. If the only thing to aim towards is being attractive and trendy, that's bad news.

I'm for moderation personally. I have no problem with any shaped dolls or game characters providing any parents involved can explain why they're unrealistic, and providing there's thought put into it from the designers / they're targeted at the appropriate audience/s.

Also I'm out of bubbles, but this is not an us vs them situation. We all benefit from more diversity and thought put into media. It's definitely not a bad thing that studios are getting questioned on stuff. Nobody's trying to take anything away from anyone.

http://stupidbadmemes.wordp... - I think you'll enjoy the comments!

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