by Lauren Marriner
Women in video games are incredibly sexualised. I loved Lara Croft when I was young, and she has grown with me throughout my life. When I was a child I did not notice her DD breasts and preposterous proportions— I saw a strong, independent bad- ass who I could look up to, a woman who wasn’t a ‘damsel in distress’.
Lara Croft may have broken the mould concerning women in video games, but she still conformed to the idea of a perfect woman. Men wanted to be in control of Lara and some claimed they wanted to take care of her. Women wanted to be her because of how strong she was and she had the ‘perfect body’. The majority of female characters in video games have big breasts, impossible waist sizes and outfits that are highly impractical when climbing up a mountain or getting into fights. Dead or Alive is the perfect example- busty, scantily clad females wearing bikinis and fighting each other… as you do…
Of course men do not get off lightly with how they are portrayed in video games either. Most of them are dashingly handsome with huge toned muscles. Nothing about them is realistic either. Both genders are painted to how society thinks the perfect specimen should be.
I do not blame the gaming market for this; the media in general are notorious when it comes to projecting a perfect person. People are under pressure from all sides on how they should look, dress, feel and live. Airbrushed billboards, magazines, television adverts stare out from every corner, men women and children are being told how they should be. But who is to say what is ‘right’? How we should dress? Who dares to have that authority?
However, I do think games are moving in the right direction. For instance, comparing Lara Croft now to how she used be shows the first sign of change. Lara no longer has the 36DD’s, the tiny waist and big hips. Her boobs have been scaled down to a 34D and the rest of her is far more in proportion. This is something that proves to me that times are actually changing— hopefully more will happen in the future.
One way I think they could make a step in the right direction is to erase or adapt booth babes. If you don’t know what booth babes are, you have never been to a gaming convention. They are models that stand around in very short skirts, tight t-shirts and smile at passing gamers. I doubt many of them actually play games, they are there to make men drool and possibly get a few of said men to play a demo of the game the babes are trying to promote. Why are there no booth men? Handsome guys with six packs greeting the swelling number of female gamers. That would be fair, and then both sexes would be guilty of objectifying each other!
There is one thing I’m not quite sure where I stand; back in May, Maxim held a girl gamer competition. Girls posted sexy pictures of themselves on a website to receive votes from fellow gamers, male and female. On one hand, I’m happy because female gamers in general are getting more accepted. But on the other hand, many of the pictures are semi-naked with much cleavage and pouting. The comments are from mostly men leering over them and a few wishing them luck. Surely, this is not a step in the right direction?
Of course, it is good that girls can say “I play games” and feel sexy about it rather than socially inadequate; but also why must they get votes by posing half naked and showing their cleavage? We should all be proud of what we have, but is this the right way to go about getting respect from fellow gamers? The girls that don’t appear half naked haven’t got as many votes as the soft porn pictures and I find that pretty depressing. I voted for a lady who had her clothes on in every photo, apart from pulling down her jeans slightly to show a geeky tattoo in one.
I know most of this article is unanswered questions, but that’s the point, we just need to be aware and think about these issues. Maybe then we can change them.
Well said i agree completely with what this article has just stated, i think until gaming over comes this hurdle it will always be seen as more immature than films or Tv. I think change is coming the industry has been hit hard these last few years and people are starting to take more responsibility in demanding more from game makers, i think a new direction should be and will be taken as the gaming world continues to evolve. Wile I agree its getting better i do wonder with relationship gimmicks like the ones seen in mass effect and dragon age are they becoming more the norm? i would hope not because their is a strong difference sex between two people and sexuality and gaming over time has failed to draw a definition between the two. The Witcher 2 has a scene in it that is quite well done, but its ruined by the fact the protagonist “sleeps around” with other female characters, for no plot or story driven reason, just another gimmick for fifteen year olds with to much time on their hands.
But i do see the light on this subject, The tomb raider of the 90s don’t cut it anymore hopefully a reboot of the franchise will change her poor run in last few years. Uncharted has taken the SONY Raiders place and its going to take a lot more than some outfits a clique story line and predictable level design to change my mind on that.
Also id like to see more female game MAKERS that would be a huge step for gaming as i think it breeds in weakness on this subject because its majority male game makers. I could be wrong but iv never seen a female game maker talking about a new release she is working on, its always a presenter or someone where its about their looks like….booth girls is what you called them i think? Change will come i’m guessing its about promoting the right attitudes and not excepting half arsed games and poor game design.
thanks you for your article !!