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Changing Games To Be Feminist Friendly.

Thanks to Anita Sarkeesian and Adam Sessler, the subject of "misogyny" and "sexism" have popped up a lot lately. There are individuals out there who want gaming to change. Rather than discuss possible future changes, I've decided to focus on how games would be if they were more "realistic" according to what feminist groups think. This means having no "sexualized" women and having no women acting as weak even though in real life both genders have their "weak" members. So, for the sake of this blog, we're going to assume what would typical events in games be like if they were remade according to this theory.

Super Mario Bros: The issue with this game is that apparently Princess Peach is portrayed as a ditsy blonde who's always kidnapped and objectified. How could we remake Super Mario Bros to change that? Well, there's the misandrist way and the realistic way. The misandrist way is that Peach knees Bowser square in the gonads when he tries to kidnap her and her guards take him away. The game ends before it starts and Mario isn't needed. The realistic way involving 2 different scenarios is as follows.

Scenario 1: Peach is kidnapped because Bowser's overwhelming military might can't be stopped by the comparatively non-existent military strength of the Mushroom Kingdom. Mario, being the Hero of the Mushroom Kingdom, is commissioned to attempt a rescue of Peach. Meanwhile, Peach is in a cell screaming for someone to help her. She has no weapons, is alone in her cell, and needs to get out. What does she do? Well, nothing. How is she supposed to effect her own rescue against Bowser's forces? Mario gets the help of abilities he finds along the way (Fire Flower, Star, etc.) and help from allies, that's the only real reason he can do anything against Bowser at all. Alone and with nothing he probably wouldn't fare too well. But let's assume the Princess manages to unlock her own cell, she has little combat experience against the Koopa Troop so her best bet is stealth. Sneaking through 8 worlds and hundreds of enemies. Yep, very likely she'll succeed all by herself.

Scenario 2: Being a monarch, as soon as Bowser attempts to kidnap the Princess, her Royal Guard immediately moves her to a safe location, completely removing her from the game at all. Bowser succeeds in taking her palace and institutes himself as the new King of Mushroom Kingdom. Peach tries to command her own forces in a desperate, yet futile, retaliation against Bowser's military force and Mario tries to get a rebellion going using every trick he's learned over years of facing Bowser. What proceeds is a long drawn out campaign where the Princess still takes no real action and Mario still does all the work.

Soul Calibur: The problem with this game is the portrayal of the female characters as sex objects. So we need a more realistic woman in these games. If we were to look around the world, we couldn't come up with what an average woman is supposed to look like because the average person in the Western world is overweight. In the 3rd World they are dangerously underweight. So you have to choose between a woman too obese to use her weapons, or too hungry to move. But let's say there is an inbetween like Talim. This is a game set in the 16th century. Women wouldn't be fighting and we have to keep things realistic right? It's unrealistic for a woman to have breasts the size of bowling balls and a butt to match, but it's completely fine that she is fighting demon monsters in the 16th century. So Ivy is about 110 lbs fighting against Nightmare, who is a living suit of armor wielding a sword that looks to be about 100lbs. Cool, she'll do really well. Of course, that's completely disregarding the unrealistic "living swords and demons" element of Soul Calibur.

God of War: The problem here seems to be all over the place, but we'll say it's Kratos beating down on women. So, let's say Kratos has a chivalrous attitude. You know, that attitude women LOVE but won't directly admit to because they want that and at the same time they want a jerk? Ok, so Kratos' family was killed thanks to Ares and Ares knows Kratos won't harm a woman. Kratos brutally slaughters everything in his path until.. a female boss. So, Kratos sheaths his chain blades and goes "I cannot strike down a woman, no matter what race she is." Then the female boss proceeds to kill him, end of game. OR the Olympian Gods proceed to toy with Kratos. They purposely piss him off so he'll start a rampage then throw in women everywhere so he has no choice but to stop. Either way, the game sucks.

Now obviously this blog only deals with games if they were left as they were character wise. We could rename Super Mario to Power Peach Sisters in which Mario is kidnapped by Bowser for some reason (because Peach would have to remain the ruler so that it's fair. We all know that royalty routinely go out and fight their own battles) and Peach has to go rescue him. But then, that's reverse objectification right?

Soul Calibur could continue to be unrealistic and have women of the 16th century have complete knowledge of martial arts wearing full battle armor to be indistinguishable from men, only then they'd have to be just as brutal as men of the era and then the complaint would be that men are fighting against women. MISOGYNY!

God of War could be Goddess of War but it would still be sexist and misogynistic.

I wonder how long the industry would last under this, admittedly glib, interpretation of how things should be.

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PopRocks3591891d ago

It probably would not last very long since it would alienate a lot of male gamers. But I think that's an extreme point to make anyway.

Games are not inherently misogynistic or have any sexist themes within them (usually) so I don't think it's a massive issue. It's more about perception (remember Cooper Lawrence and her shitty assessment on the Mass Effect sex scene?). However I would appreciate strong female leads who are not sex objects as well. The new Tomb Raider and Mirror's Edge come to my mind; they are about strong women in lead roles (who don't look like supermodels but are still arguablyattractive) in dire situations that they need to overcome. In many cases, alone.

Metroid (I'm ignoring the trash that was Other M's crappy writing) is one of the longest standing forms of this kind of hero. Samus embarks on her adventures in total isolation and has to solve every one of her problems with nothing but her gadgets and her wit. She's also in full body armor which gives her a less feminine and more robotic appearance (though she is still an 'attractive' blonde underneath).

More of that is not a bad thing, I think. If the next Gears of War had Anya as the lead, I would be completely satisfied with that. Hell, Japanese games like Persona and Fire Emblem also have some really strong female characters (even if they are not the primary characters of their respective games).

I think the good female role models and the tough male heroes can coexist. If films, comics and novels can do it, so can games.

DragonKnight1891d ago

I completely agree with you. The problem I have isn't with the introduction of more strong women as lead characters. I don't think ANYONE has a problem with that unless they are scum.

The problem I have is the people who actively look for something negative about even Samus or Lara Croft or Faith (isn't that her name in Mirror's Edge?). I mean, I've already seen mention that Lara Croft is weak in the new Tomb Raider. They've taken away the large polygon chest and tried to make her more human, but that's not enough. There is no simple middle ground apparently.

Still, I would like to be able to see the alternate universe in which the games I described were released.

PopRocks3591891d ago (Edited 1891d ago )

And I agree as well. To suggest the new Lara is "weak" is utter bullshit. She is human is what she is and as one she has to go through a lot and mature. The original demo showed her getting impaled through the side after a nasty fall and someone I knew kept complaining that Lara was "crying" throughout the demo.

My response: Listen here, asshole. I'd like to see you get stabbed through the side and act like it's nothing. Lara is reacting as any normal human would. The fact that she can take that blow without bleeding out or going into shock is downright badass.

Your alternate multiverse idea was... interesting. To be honest, I wouldn't mind a Mario game with Peach and Daisy as the leads/playable characters. Assuming of course it held the same the same level of quality and fun. Goddess of War would also be an interesting idea. Kratos' daughter or something? But yes, still TOTALLY misogynistic lol.


Super Princess Peach was a small step in that direction. In that game Mario was the damsel! And Peach used amplified emotion powers, which were pretty cool.

I'm still waiting for a Zelda game where you play as Zelda or even a female Link. The backstory in the prequel manga dictates neither can happen, but I can dream, no?

DragonKnight1891d ago

She doesn't only get impaled either. She takes all kinds of beatings in the game and keeps going. She's actually pretty tough and strong willed. There are moments where her dialogue doesn't do her justice, but as a character you can see how they are trying to make her develop and I think they do a decent job of it.

Power Peach Sisters is an awesome name I think. Lol. It could be a funny change of pace but Nintendo would never go for it. Goddess of War is a possibility though. But still... MISOGYNY!! GRRR!!!

Theo11301891d ago (Edited 1891d ago )

"The original demo showed her getting impaled through the side after a nasty fall and someone I knew kept complaining that Lara was "crying" throughout the demo."

It wasn't that she sounded like she was crying, it sounded like hardcore porn lol. I got bored durring that conference and I started doing something else, once that demo started I literally though that I had gone to some porn site.

DragonKnight1891d ago

Well, a lot of times pain and pleasure sound the same. Doesn't mean anything.

zerocrossing1891d ago (Edited 1891d ago )

You know when I look at these games and listen to the problems many of these "feminists" and so called "white knights" have against them, I just cant help but think that they are complaining for the sake of complaining, I mean seriously now we're talking about a medium that exists solely to entertain us and for a very long time now the games industry has been male dominated, of course we are going to have overly sexualised female characters but the vast majority of them are doing no harm, I know of movies that over sexualise women way worse yet they get a pass, why?

Id be lying if I said there wasn't some problems that need ironing out, but to keep bringing up the over sexualisation of women or even men for that matter, as a negative is kinda stupid, if games are to be taken seriously as an art form then should it really matter if women are overly sexualised if it suits the plot or the style of the game? take movies for example if a female character is to be over sexualised because the plot calls for it then surely that should be considered negative but guess what it's not.

I'll use the movie Alien and Aliens for an example here, in both movies Ellen Ripley is the female protagonist who ends up killing a whole bunch of Aliens and a big oll queen, and in both those movies there are scenes in which Ripley strips down to her under garments, was it for the sake of the plot? Well yeah you could argue it was connected, or was it done to appeal to the male audience? Oh you bet you arse it was! yet I don't hear anyone complaining about that.

Games are just the latest form of medium to go through that of what books, music and film have all gone through, I don't think we absolutely need to show Women in a more realistic light simply because games are there for entertainment purposes, Im not at all against female characters being shown in a more positive light, but not when it gets in the way of creativity and just ends up where games are being made with the intent of abiding by and appeasing to those who believe there is a bigger problem than there actually is.

Anyway good article, you made some excellent points.

DragonKnight1891d ago

I think what's funny is stuff like Kotaku's article that's up today about killing sexy girls. Totillo seems to think that equality means that Kratos should be stomping on the nuts of the male enemies if he's going to shove his sword through the chest of female enemies. The ironic thing is that God of War is probably the most non-gender biased game in existence and it's still called out for inequality. So I think you're right that people are complaining for the sake of complaining.

I'm going to be interested in seeing how Address The Sess goes tonight since he was a catalyst for all the recent garbage we've had to endure over unrealistic characters being portrayed unrealistically.

Theo11301891d ago

"Im not at all against female characters being shown in a more positive light, but not when it gets in the way of creativity"

360, PS3, and PC release for Jan - March 2013 = 65 +-2

Out of those 65, only Tomb Raider was the only one with a female protagonist. Damn Laura, stifling that creativity.

DragonKnight1891d ago

Firstly, you've proven nothing.

Secondly, it's Lara, not Laura.

admiralvic1890d ago (Edited 1890d ago )

First off, you're wrong. While I am not going to go down a list of games that came out to prove you wrong, I can tell you off the top of my head...

1) Neptunia Victory (March 2013) has a mostly female cast and female pro tag.
2) Atelier (like March or late Feb 2013) has a female lead and is about finding her sister.

So there are at least 2 others, not saying I disagree with your point, but I am saying everything is based off how much you know / how hard you're trying to make a point.

matgrowcott1890d ago

I want to say Scarlet Blade, but something tells me that would probably work towards your point...

Qrphe1890d ago


Someone like Anita would find excuses to disregard your examples. She'd probably say that those games portray young girls as sexual objects to pander to the male audience. If they manly girls, she'd say they were try-hard apologists female characters to feign diversity.

There is no winning with Anita (you can't win against fallacies)

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TuxedoMoon1891d ago

When you present a game...or any kind of media for that matter, you're not going to please everyone. Someone is always going to have a problem with whatever is out there. Not everyone likes Dark Souls and Zelda.

I'm not a feminist, nor have a side in this issue, but I really don't understand how a feminist-friendly game would work and be a good game. Even Tomb Raider has its feminist-flaws with one of the female characters having to be saved (Damsel). Even Lara herself might come under fire for being too pretty. The quick time events with the men would have to change, since men shouldn't over power women. Instead Lara should have the same physical strength as the men. Even that's unrealistic though...The savages in Tomb Raider would have to be very scrawny and weak...which won't really make them that dangerous.

This whole sexism thing is getting out of hand. Yes, there are inequalities in games...but that's the sad realism of the real world. Not everyone can be pleased.

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