The Big Picture: Gender Games

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Teshi:

HyenaThePirate:

Well there's some studies, but sadly I'm gonna have to put those squarely in the "numbers may not lie, but I don't believe it anyway." category. Where are all these girl gamers? 42% of game players are women? Are they talking GAMES games or are they talking FACEBOOK/ZYNGA games? Because my eyes don't deceive me. Go to any game store you'd like to name and hang around for a day and survey how many women come in to buy games (for themselves) and how many males do. I didn't bother looking up "video game demographic information" because casual observation, the basis of scientific inquiry, tells me a different story. A quick jaunt onto any multiplayer online game you'd like to name to survey how many male players you encounter vs female players also tells the story.

As an adult woman, I very seldom shop in what I'd broadly classify as "nerd stores" despite the fact that I am a big nerd. It just feels awkward. I order stuff online or go to a big box store.

When I do play online it's under a not-obviously-female name, and I seldom use the mic except when playing with real-life friends.

I suspect I'm not particularly unusual in this.

Nor do I suspect that you and those like you represent nearly HALF of the console/pc or so called "hardcore" gaming demographic. Heck, that statement alone just goes to demonstrate the issue with the quality of the statistics; if a large portion of female gamers follow the same practice you do, how can they verify or quantify their results? How was the data even collected? By polls on websites? Or did they stand in a store and ask? They do little to justify or explain their results, just the statistic is tossed out.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not disparaging female gamers or belittling them or marginalizing them intentionally. It's just that in defense of the industry, I believe firmly that they are designing these products directly at a specific subset of society.

Heck, the problem with gamers of ethnicity is a bigger problem in my opinion in the industry. At least women are somewhat represented, even if it's not an entirely pleasing form of representation. Some could argue that concepts of beauty and aesthetics are an art form and since games have been trying to classify themselves as "art" forever now, that's a strong explanation for why those female characters tend to eschew sensible armor for leather and satin.
But how often are minorities depicted in games? Far, far less than women. And far less "pleasantly." When they do appear it is seldom as a main protagonist outside of RPG character creators, and usually it's as a supporting character that tends to be part stereotype, part comic relief. And yet, I'm willing to bet there are more gamers of color than there are gamers of female gender. Yet nobody seems to bring that up as much as the "girls aren't treated fairly in games" discussions.

I'm willing to bet however that it has the same source: demographics: who plays and who pays the most.

cbert:

ReiverCorrupter:

snip

I would agree with the "money is your vote." Often, this is why I don't buy triple-A titles. The indie and art game scene has none of this "feminist problem;" feminists are instead seen as assets, and feminist criticism is useful.

Women might not purchase as many copies of extreme tits volleyball, but the point is moot. We appear to have a lack of Trip-A titles marketed towards a good 42% (and growing) of the market share. That's not just misogynistic, that's bad business.

Publishers may be in it to make money, but I maintain a shred of hope that the Devs are aiming for something higher (maybe art, even?). So I implore them to grow up and make their products worth taking seriously.

EDIT: There remains the underlying problem of the lack of female game creators, which is far, far less than the number of female gamers. There isn't so much of a "male conspiracy" as there is a serious sausage fest in the dev departments.

Well, like I said, if it really is a marketing mistake then the system should correct for itself. Someone will come out with a game that appeals more to women and it will sell more than its competitors because more women will buy it. Problem solved. Eventually someone at EA or some other place is going to realize the size of the female market and take advantage of it. That's how capitalism works. I'm not a full libertarian or anything, in fact I'd like to see some things at least be partly socialized so that everyone can afford it (for instance very basic things like health care), but this is the kind of thing that capitalism is great at doing.

And no, most devs are likely in it to get paychecks so they can afford food. Sure, I think most of them probably enjoy their jobs, but they're still in it to make a living. 'Art' has become a meaningless and pretentious term. It used to simply be something that was created in order to be appreciated for its beauty. Now it seems that beauty isn't enough and art has to have some sort of insipid message so it can 'make people think'. What rubbish. The only valid way to argue for something is with cold and rational argumentation, everything else is either propaganda or sophistry. Games are a form of entertainment, they don't need to be anything else. They can create an emotional response in the player or they could just be mindless violence, it really just comes down to what the consumer wants out of their product.

It's embarrassing how many people are trying to excuse female objectification in video games by saying it happens to men as well by pointing to all of the beefy conan-space-marine types. people seem to be completely missing the point. Muscle bound men are seen as sexually attractive in popular culture, but this sort of body structure is also seen as 'Heroic'. The strong male character looks like someone who is capable of taking his knocks and giving a beating to the bad guys, whomever they may be. The common female character in video games or other media is considerably less muscular, instead of focusing on how strong and physically capable she is, games, movies, etc instead routinely focus on their sexuality. As pointed out in the video, they are frequently put into suggestive poses and either have a coquettish expression, if they have an expression at all.

ReiverCorrupter:

cbert:

ReiverCorrupter:

snip

I would agree with the "money is your vote." Often, this is why I don't buy triple-A titles. The indie and art game scene has none of this "feminist problem;" feminists are instead seen as assets, and feminist criticism is useful.

Women might not purchase as many copies of extreme tits volleyball, but the point is moot. We appear to have a lack of Trip-A titles marketed towards a good 42% (and growing) of the market share. That's not just misogynistic, that's bad business.

Publishers may be in it to make money, but I maintain a shred of hope that the Devs are aiming for something higher (maybe art, even?). So I implore them to grow up and make their products worth taking seriously.

EDIT: There remains the underlying problem of the lack of female game creators, which is far, far less than the number of female gamers. There isn't so much of a "male conspiracy" as there is a serious sausage fest in the dev departments.

Well, like I said, if it really is a marketing mistake then the system should correct for itself. Someone will come out with a game that appeals more to women and it will sell more than its competitors because more women will buy it. Problem solved. Eventually someone at EA or some other place is going to realize the size of the female market and take advantage of it. That's how capitalism works. I'm not a full libertarian or anything, in fact I'd like to see some things at least be partly socialized so that everyone can afford it (for instance very basic things like health care), but this is the kind of thing that capitalism is great at doing.

And no, most devs are likely in it to get paychecks so they can afford food. Sure, I think most of them probably enjoy their jobs, but they're still in it to make a living. 'Art' has become a meaningless and pretentious term. It used to simply be something that was created in order to be appreciated for its beauty. Now it seems that beauty isn't enough and art has to have some sort of insipid message so it can 'make people think'. What rubbish. The only valid way to argue for something is with cold and rational argumentation, everything else is either propaganda or sophistry. Games are a form of entertainment, they don't need to be anything else. They can create an emotional response in the player or they could just be mindless violence, it really just comes down to what the consumer wants out of their product.

It's seriously distressing how you don't seem to understand that "the system should correct for itself." is false. The system has found something marketable- in this case the sexual objectification of women, and there is no reason to think that it will stop marketing this image as long as it makes money. This is not harmless, and this image is not marketed solely towards men, as some have attempted to argue. One need look no further then the multitude of women who subject themselves disorders to Bulimia or Anorexia in order to fit into the marketed 'ideal' of feminine beauty.

The Gilded Age if nothing else provides plenty of material on the ability of capitalism to damage society in the pursuit of capital. There is no proof that capitalism, left on its own, naturally trends towards the benign.

Art does not exist in a vacuum, it is influenced by culture and with the way sexuality is marketed in today's world,sexuality and sexism is very much a relevant topic in regards to art. As for games, regardless of whether you think of them as art or not, they are not created in a vacuum either-they are influenced by culture-they are in no way simply 'entertainment'.

Clonekiller:

nikki191:
as a female i totally agree with bob in his video. but the skimpy outfits start to wear a bit thin when thats the only option you have when it comes to character creation and equipment. id like to at least have the choice to wear armour that looks like it protects in rpg's..

LIke this?
image

Hate to break it to you buddy, but this armor design is extremely stupid. She's protected EVERYWHERE except the two most vital area (heart and face/head) - her neck isn't protected by anything but a red scarf either, which really doesn't do anything against swords, axes and the like.

Granted, she isn't overly sexy because her stance is pretty neutral, but this is exactly the kind of 'WTF?' armor design feminist rally against, as essentially it's more important for the character to show her beauty (through her face and boobs) then to not get killed.

Double post, fuck me.

Huh...its the poses...so simple no wonder I never really thought about it. And was that a knock against Other M, Bob?

Oh, and does anyone think its ironic that Gears of War is probably one of the better games in this area?

castlewise:

Hubert South:
As said, poses are horribly open to interpretation, and most of those supposedly purely eyecandy female poses could and can be interpreted otherwise. The last picture of the axe-holding redhead is a shining example. To me, her expression did not convey sexiness, it conveyed, via the smirk, and the slightly shifted pose, a dislike of whatever she was seeing (probably "not another god-damned fight").

Funny how you, on the opther hand, are fine with the eyecandy for girls presentation of male characters. Do you think Jim Raynor looks and poses the way he does to only adress males? Hell no.

Hell yes he does. Hes like something out of an army recruitment poster. There aren't any abs, or pecs, or oiled muscles. There is a giant suit of (mostly practical) armor and a look of grim determination. I would say the Raynor example proves the rule more than anything else.

As an aside, maybe there are girls who find grim determination sexy. I don't know. But the fact is that they are finding something about his characterization personality attractiveness, which is being communicated visually. Its the difference between Alyx Vance and Sophita.

And womankind play Strategy Games?

I'm really, sincerely asking. I know gals who like adventurers, platformers, fighting games, shooters, sandboxes, RPGs, JRPGs MOBAs, MMOs, flight simulators, even datesims aimed at men... but I'm yet to find a single lady who digs a strategy game in any format, be it Real Time, Turn Based or Tower Defense (other than the most basic of basics that is Plants vs Zombies...).

I've heard rumors of a female Korean SC2 pro-gamer, but if even in South Korea, where Starcraft is bigger than religion and sports put together, this is considered odd and unusual...

I'm really just asking to be proved wrong. Empirically, it is proving a hard nut to crack.

Tarkand:

Hate to break it to you buddy, but this armor design is extremely stupid. She's protected EVERYWHERE except the two most vital area (heart and face/head) - her neck isn't protected by anything but a red scarf either, which really doesn't do anything against swords, axes and the like.

Granted, she isn't overly sexy because her stance is pretty neutral, but this is exactly the kind of 'WTF?' armor design feminist rally against, as essentially it's more important for the character to show her beauty (through her face and boobs) then to not get killed.

i agree with you on this. she doesnt look sexy but her breast are again sticking out. instead being covered.

this reminds me of rynn of the game drakan. at he beginning she wears this leather tide dress up and also some of her armour was not covering everything

http://www.thegamecodex.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Rynn-Drakan-Order-of-the-Flame-3.jpg
http://image.com.com/gamespot/images/screenshots/6/61696/drakan_screen004.jpg

but later on you do find some armours which cover everything.

http://www.actiongirls.name/game-girls/drakan2screenshot1.jpg
http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2214/2228858836_7c76e9d67a.jpg

What a tiny spread of predominantly japanese beat-em-up and hack-n-slash games you used to explain this point. Games I might like to add, that are almost entirely dominated by a male audience.

Now I'm all for gender equality and what not and do agree that some games can really take the piss when it comes to depicting women. But for every game with an overly sexualised female character there are at least 5 with down to earth, real female characters.

Ever heard the phrase tilting at windmills? This isn't such an issue that is so widespread and terrible that the gamin industry needs rapid change, moreso that its an issue that exists and is quite easy to argue for and look all noble while your at it.

Caramel Frappe:
-snip

This isn't a criticism of your choice, but personally I find the opposite of your choice to be the more enticing or alluring. The second strikes me as a typical romanticized war portrait, such as typical of Napoleon. The first however, has the cocked hips, the pouty lips, a distant model look while her body faces the camera, the thigh-high skin and, in my less than modest opinion, better frame for her breasts. The second is a frame of glorified dynamics whereas the first is more of a straight-on pose.

OT: I feel that the pose and the clothing with dimensional attributes are of equal value when it comes to objectification of the person, so I'm not in complete agreement. I tend to see most sexualization as a bit of a slippery slope.

I'm more in the "don't pander to me" crowd rather than "make things equal", but I do agree that giving women more positive characterization is a good thing.

I'm also quite surprised that there are those who feel the female population has been equally pandered to with objectification. The male physique as a role model seems the more likely candidate.

I just love it when someone says "I'm not in favour of this [insert generic right wing stance], BUT......

MovieBob, no-one cares if you're not so secretly a feminist, so please don't insult our intelligence by trying to play both sides of the field. Just come right out & shout "Girl Power" & be done with it.

For the record, it's not so much that male gamers like to argue with feminists about equality. I believe that we're all pretty open minded nowdays, even going the other way & actively empowering women & female characters in games. It's when women try to dictate what should & shouldn't be allowed/banned/changed to conform with PC stereotypes that we get all roused up. Feminists have already won. They HAVE female equality in all things now. But talk to any modern day feminist & you soon realise - what they now want female superiority. "Do it our way or else!"

Sound familiar?

cbert:

ReiverCorrupter:

Mmm... There are different types of games. Do men and women all play the same types of games equally, or do the more sexist games actually have a larger male demographic. I think people are forgetting that some games can be aimed at women, and some aimed at men. Keeping this in mind the marketing departments probably adjust content accordingly.

We're talking about money here. A capitalist system will automatically adjust based upon the desires of its consumer base, so I kind of have a hard time believing that it's some oppressive male regime. The publishers are in it to make money, not keep women down. If their marketing departments have miscalculated then someone will eventually make a game that gets it right, and that company will become more successful, thus fixing the problem. If women really are offended by the games they buy then they should boycott them.

In a capitalist system your money is your vote. If small groups protest something for its insensitivity but that thing still makes money, then it isn't going to change. The only way that there aren't going to be games like DOA Extreme Beach Volleyball is if there isn't a market for it. But I don't think women make up the market for those types of games in the first place, so they can't really stop them. As long as there are horny teenage boys out there that are willing to spend $60 on bouncing virtual mammaries, then someone is going to make that game I'm afraid.

Now, does anyone REALLY think that they can effect a level of social change to the point that teenage boys will no longer be horny and stupid? Good luck with THAT. Lulz. Is it really that big of a deal? I have a hard time buying the idea that it's just video games and other media that cause men to view women as sex objects. It's a pretty culturally and genetically ingrained thing, especially for those who don't live a life of the mind. How can someone respect a woman for her mind when they don't even use their own? Rubes will be rubes, I'm afraid. Yes, I realize that I'm an elitist and I have my reasons, so don't point it out as if it's an argument.

I would agree with the "money is your vote." Often, this is why I don't buy triple-A titles. The indie and art game scene has none of this "feminist problem;" feminists are instead seen as assets, and feminist criticism is useful.

Women might not purchase as many copies of extreme tits volleyball, but the point is moot. We appear to have a lack of Trip-A titles marketed towards a good 42% (and growing) of the market share. That's not just misogynistic, that's bad business.

Publishers may be in it to make money, but I maintain a shred of hope that the Devs are aiming for something higher (maybe art, even?). So I implore them to grow up and make their products worth taking seriously.

EDIT: There remains the underlying problem of the lack of female game creators, which is far, far less than the number of female gamers. There isn't so much of a "male conspiracy" as there is a serious sausage fest in the dev departments.

Im sorry but what actually qualifies a gamer? Because I have an EXTREMELY hard time believing that women buy 40% of any kind of major game.

MovieBob:
Gender Games

Those (not so) pesky feminists.

Watch Video

Dear Bob,

Games are one of the few mediums where as a guy, I don't feel emasculated or treated as just another number/generic human being. I'd tell you what I really think, but I'd get banned. I'd appreciate it greatly if you'd allow me to continue to be a male chauvinist pig in private without having the EEO police sterilize my entertainment and make me feel guilty for having a dick.

As for feminism:
I have been maced just for sitting down at a table adjacent to a table where a woman sat in a public cafeteria (and afterwards screamed at for being a dirty filthy male). I can count the number of women that I know as more than a name on one hand, so my knowledge of women in general is limited to observations only. But I have to say, that after being exposed to the college Sororities and the campus feminism clubs, that they are just as viscous and nasty to each other as they are to men in general. I could not bear the thought that any of these monsters would be allowed to sanitize any more forms of entertainment. Especially since in the written mediums, Romance has infected every form of genre from Urban Fantasy to Sci-Fi. I don't mean romance, I mean ROMANCE, the bodice rippers.

longboardfan:

MovieBob:
Gender Games

Those (not so) pesky feminists.

Watch Video

Dear Bob,

Games are one of the few mediums where as a guy, I don't feel emasculated or treated as just another number/generic human being. I'd tell you what I really think, but I'd get banned. I have been maced just for sitting at a table adjacent to a table where a woman sat in a public cafeteria (and afterwards screamed at for being a dirty filthy male). I'd appreciate it greatly if you'd allow me to continue to be a male chauvinist pig in private without having the EEO police sterilize my entertainment and make me feel guilty for having a dick.

Please tell me you pressed criminal charges on that psycho bitch. Also please tell me she got in trouble. If you don't I'm going to have to cry and drink myself to sleep.

I have said it before, and I'll say it again. Feminism as it stands today is an auto-immune diease.

Avistew:

Therumancer:
Now, I will also say that there is also a bit less practical diversity in women for the kinds of games presented, because there is some relevency to this in real life. If you look at female dancers and martial artists and such you'll notice they all tend to wind up with the same, or very similar builds. In comparison guys, who are designed differantly for physical activity, can be greatly more varied in the way they develop.

I disagree with you. Women have just as much variety in how their bodies develop depending on which activities they perform and which muscle groups they focus on, as well as variety in their body type to begin with.

You can see that just like a male sumo wrestler has a different build from, say, a fencer, because he uses different kinds of muscles, females who practice sports such as hammer throw or weightlifting develop their muscles differently than those who, say, are dancers.

The only thing that seems to be constant in the lineups is the small size of their breasts comparatively, because breasts are made of fat, and the more muscle you get, the less fat you have.

You also don't see as many older female characters in fighting games, they tend to all be in their 20s, while males have a much broader age range.

It's not the complete lack of differances, but the degree to which those differances appear and the number of them. It's not a popular point, and I understand you don't like it, but it's just the way things are. The reason why you don't have lady versions of Hulk Hogan in pro-wrestling is because that's not how girls develop. You get a guy who pumps iron and gets into an ideal body-muscle ratio he's going to wind up a lot differant than a girl who does the same thing, and can simply put do a lot more differant things with his body and form it in differant ways.

Again, you take female pro-wrestlers like Sable, Chyna, or others from back during that entire era and compare them to say "The Rock" or whomever, the differance isn't that those girls didn't work out, or put in the practice time in the gym. Indeed thet learned all the same kinds of stuff to put on the shows that the guys did, and worked out heavily because it was their job, that's just what it looks like for girls.

Likewise due to the way guys are structured a sumo-type regime can produce a very powerful if odd-looking physique that is functional for what it's intended for, a girl really isn't going to be able to support and function that way.

Now in an ideal world, this wouldn't be true, but we don't live in one, and guys and girls have some substantial differances in our physical makeups. Men are simply more capable and varied physically, maxxing out much higher. This basic truth comes out in heroic fantasy.

When it comes to the AGE of characters in video games, there is some truth to that, but again I think it comes down to reality and the way both genders age. Men tend to remain physically viable/imposing a lot longer than women for a lot of differant reasons. Even when it comes to all girl competitions girls have a fairly small window of ideal physical performance, which is one of the big reasons why we have so many scandals with female figure skaters, gymnists, and other things. Ages being lied about to get girls into competitions when they are at their teenage prime for flexibility, knowing that by the time another competition or olypmics comes along they won't be able to compete. China got into some trouble for this and tried to cover it up when they hosted the olympics, it was a big deal for a reason, and one of the reasons why it was a big deal was that given the performance window the other countries competing didn't nessicarly send their best people, but the best people they could send within the age requirements, given another year or so to play around with the roster might have been very differant. The bouncing teen/tween girl speed demon characters aren't just pervy fantasy, there is some basis to that sterepotype since that's the age when a girl actually has an advantage over a guy in certain areas and is going to perform at the highest possible level. Where a 16 year old guy is probably only going to be physically better when he hits 25, a girl at like 14-15 is probably going to be more physically capable and flexible than she will be in her early-mid 20s. Games involve fantasy exagerration, but in general it's slightly less of a stretch for some 15 year old girl to be performing those acrobatic moves than for a middle aged one to be doing the same thing.

That said, above and beyond all real-world rationales that might be behind it, look at the works of fiction and artwork created by women. Ask yourself how many female heroes in any genere there are that aren't fairly young? They exist, but are few and far between, and that's without guys even getting involved. I think a lot of it has to do with a degree of suspension of disbelief. As a general rule, your correct, that most women in fantasy are either young OR have somehow managed to retain their youthful prime. The most noteworthy exception in recent memory I can name is probably Amanda Tapping in "Sanctuary" but in that show you'll also notice that the character relies on mysticism (source blood) to justify having physical abillities well beyond what she should be able to do, Helen Magnus LOOKS
like she should be middle aged, but they justify the FX and stuntwork by saying "well she has Source Blood which lets her fight like she's in her physical prime, and has retarded her aging to the point of near immoratility". I could mention example of other exceptions from various cop shows and such, but most of those aren't strictly speaking fantasy fare of the type we're talking about. Even in things like Fringe/The X-files, the female leads rarely do much in the way of heavy fighting, "Sanctuary" stands out largely because the heroine of that show has done things like having running episode long cat and mouse kung-fu fights with teleporting mad scientists.

Still, sometime take a look at what the ages of some of the characters in these games actually are. I believe Ivy from Soul Calibur is supposed to be in her 40s, but she has a cursed bloodline which probably does a lot to retard her aging. Not to mention the simple fact that anime-type art style doesn't do a good job of representing the fine details on aging, when your either looking at smooth skin, or yoda-type extreme aging with little in between it's hard to say... that's a problem with highly stylized artwork.

The overall point here is that what we see throughout fantasy, represents the way things are pretty well. There ARE exceptions in real life, but then again there are exceptions in fantasy as well, so it tends to balance out. When you see one of the exceptions let it stick out in your mind for what it is, as that is probably part of the point.

I'd suggest about a quarter of my WOW guild is female, however, I think WOW is more female friendly than some, after all there's cooking to learn, making clothes, and of course the epic 25 player raids, in the hope of getting some fabulous new shoes!

Hell, the human female's /joke is along the lines of 'why does everyone assume I've learned cooking and tailoring?'

I'd say gaming is perhaps a little behind other forms of entertainment, but we're younger and I hope we'll evolve quicker than movies and TV.

I would also say, Saints Row 2. I made a weird looking obese pale woman with dreadlocks and an unhinged expression and dressed her like a bag lady, purely because I could, and it was funny to see her climb to the top and take over the city, instead of the typical gangsta/guy in a suit.

Hell, fat people can have an interesting storyline or abilities, tho of course it'll lead to FOX going 'New game encourages obesity', but if you don't agree, Mario, E Honda, Kirby and many others would like a word.

Hell, E honda and Mario weren't even built around wanting to eat all the time, Honda's a damned athlete :)

I forgot:
This argument is weak. I could easily read the characters in the women he showed. Some of them, like the picture of Nariko wielding a sword with a serious expression and Cammy just sitting down, weren't even sexualized at all, with just the pictures Bob showed there actually was a level of diversity and some actually did portray the character (Morrigan and Mai). Those complaining about a sexy pose are being presumptive and ignoring everything else that can show character, like the facial expression.

So the problem really is that women (but I honestly feel like men make a bigger fuss over this than women) have a problem with the sex and sexuality of women. The other problem is blowing things way out of proportion; this should be a narrow topic with specific games in discussion, not a broad one pointing fingers and making assumptions at the whole damn industry in general.

I agree it does show the dangers of painting with too broad of a brush.

It would be a bit like me taking a copy of Queen's Blade and then generalizing all cartoon based on how many boobs pop out on the cartoon. You have to ignore the work of places like Pixar or other cartoon studios that don't have boobs popping out in their cartoons.

Or it would be like taking The Lord of the Ring series and the Game of Thrones book series and going look books are really long and run volumes. You kind of end up ignoring short books when the point is hey look how long books are.

It also seems like the topic is really only looking at the characters from the point of promotional art and kind of ignoring the fact that the female characters in the game is just as viable of a choice for winning as any of the male characters.

I will have a Bayonetta over an Alyx anytime. Bayonetta is a badass in the leagues of Dante and Kratos, and Alyx is just a generic Mary Sue who I couldn't care less about.

SenseOfTumour:
I'd suggest about a quarter of my WOW guild is female, however, I think WOW is more female friendly than some, after all there's cooking to learn, making clothes, and of course the epic 25 player raids, in the hope of getting some fabulous new shoes!

That's officially one of my favorite quotes!

I would also say, Saints Row 2. I made a weird looking obese pale woman with dreadlocks and an unhinged expression and dressed her like a bag lady, purely because I could, and it was funny to see her climb to the top and take over the city, instead of the typical gangsta/guy in a suit.

That's pretty much the character I had.

Saints Row 2 is one of the rare games that get how to design a decent character, everything from how they look and sound, criteria that the user himself/herself get to choose is the key ingredient that's missing in a good amount of games.

Bottom-line, I would rather have a character creator than a preset character. This way everybody wins.

HyenaThePirate:

Heck, the problem with gamers of ethnicity is a bigger problem in my opinion in the industry. At least women are somewhat represented, even if it's not an entirely pleasing form of representation. Some could argue that concepts of beauty and aesthetics are an art form and since games have been trying to classify themselves as "art" forever now, that's a strong explanation for why those female characters tend to eschew sensible armor for leather and satin.
But how often are minorities depicted in games? Far, far less than women. And far less "pleasantly." When they do appear it is seldom as a main protagonist outside of RPG character creators, and usually it's as a supporting character that tends to be part stereotype, part comic relief. And yet, I'm willing to bet there are more gamers of color than there are gamers of female gender. Yet nobody seems to bring that up as much as the "girls aren't treated fairly in games" discussions.

A fact that's overlooked by everyone. And when a minority brings it up, he/she is "whining". But then again, the issue might be due to less minorities who are interested in bringing those issues up compared to female and LGBT folks who are pretty vocal about their depiction or lack-of in many a video-game.

Think about the Salah-din dude who wrote an article about depiction of Muslims in video game, and blam! the thread was flooded with all manners of trolls and other detractors. "Boooohoooo, Political Correctness! Boohooo".

That's why I would rather have a character creator available in my game over preset ones ... like that douche Hawke from DA2 (screw you and your entire retarded family ... I hate the Hawkes ... dumb highborn peasants).

animehermit:

Apparently a girl letting her hair down = space slut now.

Person you quoted is wrong as hell, most gamers don't hate strong women, most reclusive basement-dwelling shut-ins hate strong women. I found Ashley one of the more compelling characters from the original Mass Effect, as did a lot of people I know. She was interesting because she stood by her beliefs for the most part, while other characters like Liara and even Tali seemed to be so passive about everything.

OT: Us ranting and raving about how game design needs to grow up over hear will have little effect on the Japanese games that are to blame for most of these issues. Gaming in west has moved away from this in past 5 years or so. You hardly ever see RPG females in skimpy outfits or the busty risque posses in anything being produced over here.

I agree with the bolded, I just didn't have the inclination at the time to erase the bit I thought was pap xD

And I have to say dude, it's clearly not just letting her hair down = bimbo(with respect, please don't say I used the word slut when I didn't... I think it's an absolutely disgusting word)... Over the very short amount of time between ME2 and ME3(both in 'game time' and in RL), Ashley appears to have had a fact lift, collagen in her lips, has clearly taken to applying make up raligiously, has had a MAJOR boob job, and wears outfits that literally hold her boobs up for her in nice little ergonomic circles...

But as for her actual character, like I said, she was indeed compelling and well made, I just didn't like her personally.

But you're spot on about the japs. Only honestly, I think most of the crap they put out is totally abhorent. We may sexualise women in our games a little too much, but what we DON'T do is sexualise little girls... That shit is disgusting.

I think the problem is both the outfits and the poses, and games are just one example. Check outfits in the real world. How many impractical male Outfits do you see? how many for women?
Best example is formal wear. Men get suits with lots of pockets and shoes that, while not being running shoes, at least let you walk straight. The typical Dress-code for women features a dress with not pockets whatsoever, which limits the movement of your legs if you don't want to rip it or show people your undies, combined with shoes that are most likely made to stab someone in the eye, but should not be used for walking. Whatever you need is carried in a tiny purse which always kind of keeps one arm busy. I was on a political action once where we needed to dress formal as camouflage, guess who had more problems with the actual action...

So, basically your chainmail-bikinis are found in the stores downtown as well. Only that Non-NPC-women have a chance to say no, risking to be discriminated against.

The Poses: Let's not go into detail here, but most poses we grew up with are structurally sexist. It's not just the way people dance, it's in the way people hold hands (the male usually has his hand in the front meaning that he leads the way), it's in the way we walk, the way we talk, the way we sit, extremely abundant in commercial posters... Maybe computer games could be more, better than the society that spews them out. Sadly, most are jsut an extreme example.

Did I get this correct that samus was seen as a positive example? Definitely not what I think. With all that mother stuff going on...

internetzealot1:

Oh, and does anyone think its ironic that Gears of War is probably one of the better games in this area?

Firstly, why would it be ironic? People don't appreciate the characterisation of the sub-cast in Gears games... Fenix and Dom are kinda lame, I'll be the first to admit, but Coletrain, Tai, Prescott, Hoffman, Dizzy, Jack, Carmine the 1st... I could go on.

Secondly, sci-fi in games and film has given us some of the best female characters going, Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, Lt. Mira(Space Marine), Liara(ME2 moreso then 1 imo, she was much more capable and believable in that game) and Samus(pre other M) to name but a few and none of the females in gears are sexed at all but Sam and Bernie are stand out example of chicks getting shit done for me. Lt. Mira especially is getting some serious applause from certain crowds, and for good reason.

Itt's funny, but for this particular woman/feminist, I like mostly characters from Team Fortress 2. So do a lot of women, actually. My favorites being 1) The Sniper (Okay, his physical habits are disgusting, but he's sexy) 2) The Engineer- Polite hardworking southern boy who isn't hard on the eyes at all- he's the character I think most women would like to marry as opposed to boink. 3) Pyro- admittedly, much of this is headcanon for me- in my headcanon, Pyro looks like Manny Pacquiao, but more fire scarred on the body. 4) Spy- He's French, he's in a romance with an age-appropriate woman, and he knows how to do romance. There's a lot to like, there. And none of them are conventionally handsome or physically ripped to there and gone. If I had to add a fifth character, it would be Demoman, simply because he's awesome. Soldier, Medic and Heavy just don't do it for me. Soldier is batshit crazy in a way I'd find personally hard to deal with, Medic is just scary, "comes from a time when the Hippocratic Oath was downgraded to a suggestion" and Heavy is just not attractive to me at all. Neither is Scout, who I'd want to punch into next week on a regular basis.

Other women disagree with me, of course, but not a single one is an example of the kind of 'roided up weightlifter type that many gamers assume is meant to appeal to women. Body type is not all women go for. Sometimes- most of the time- it's a lot more than that. Voice can have a lot to do with it. Some of the appeal of Sniper is his accent. He's got a dead sexy voice.

I forgot:
This argument is weak.... some actually did portray the character (Morrigan and Mai). Those complaining about a sexy pose are being presumptive and ignoring everything else that can show character, like the facial expression.

Please understand that when the complaint is, "Almost all female video game characters are portrayed as sluts and whores," responding, "Some of them actually are sluts and whores!" is not any better.

longboardfan:

As for feminism:
I have been maced just for sitting down at a table adjacent to a table where a woman sat in a public cafeteria (and afterwards screamed at for being a dirty filthy male).

You were assaulted in a cafeteria, unprovoked? That isn't an example of the matriarchy coming down on you like a fist, that's an example of crime. Or it would be, if there was any reason to believe this actually happened.

Daaaah Whoosh:

lockgar:

Or maybe make a female character that you don't want to fuck? Just a thought. Maybe have an actual person who happens to be female, and not an object of sexual desire?

All right, then. Why don't we talk about how the leading men in video games always look handsome and well-built, then? There are seldom any fat or ugly men in games, especially in many RPGs, where there is only one body type per gender for every human NPC. Normally, both sexes are portrayed in a way that makes them attractive to most people. I'm just trying to say that if it's going to be that way, it might as well be equal for both men and women in all respects. I mean, I'm all for seeing a bunch of non-attractive people in video games, as long as it's not just the women.

The problem with that argument is it isn't equal, and you can see how with just a few moments of analysis. If a man is a soldier/marine type or whatever, and they're used to armed and unarmed combat and almost inhuman feats of strength and endurance, then by extension, the ruggedness and muscles fit the character. Yes it may be attractive to some women(believe it or not, the huge muscles are put there for male benefit, a lot of women would prefer to go to bed with someone who looks like Nathan Drake, rather then someone like Marcus Fenix), but it works on a level beyond pure titillation.

Female characters however, don't get the same treatment.

ANY sexualisation of a female character(and there is a shit load of it, lets not kid ourselves) is not only much more overt, blatant and degrading then it is for the men, but the ONLY purpose it serves is because thats what they think we want to see. The character isn't dressing that way because she wants to or posing that way because those contortions are natural, she's being put that way PURELY as an object for the sexual fantasies of young men, which is WORLDS different from what happens to the male characters, I think you'll agree.

Also, if you want to play a game where the protagonist is borderline superpowered without being a mound of muscle, Japanese games are full of that shit, their culture doesn't worship enourmous men in the same way that ours does...
Edit:

MysticMongol:
Laying the smack down.

I only just saw this post after putting down mine, and I have to say, cracking first post mate! Welcome to the Escapist!

My Bad.

Well colour me educated.

Good show, though I seem to remember a game overthinker tackling this issue in a severely different way?

Princess Rose:

Truth.

Aiddon:
More truth.

I'm SO glad that other long time PE fans feel EXACTLY the same way I do, right on down to not actually finishing T3B because it sucked balls... Although, you guys have reignited the old jealousy that PE1 was never released in the UK =[

I'm glad Bob explained that the vast majority of female gamers have no problem with "sexy" character design. However, I feel that he stumbled on the issue of posing more than anything. In fact, I think this is actually an excellent example of gaming equality - in many cases, both the character's appearance and the pose/attitude personality are basically a set of ideals.

When he went through the male characters poses, he correctly identified a lot of what they were presenting. However, it appears the female poses he chose a different interpretation simply to make a point. Is Mike Haggar's "Arm up, implying strength" pose a comfortable or normal way for a man to stand? No of course not, its just as much of a "I could be looking in the mirror or showing off for the player" as a female character cocking her hips to the side. Both male and female characters embody various tropes that go through their character design. Morrigan Aesland is a succubus, her entire character is designed around sex in accordance with legends predating video games; we'd expect her poses to suggest exuding temptation and danger. All of these poses fit these characters, not simply provide eye-candy. I think its rather telling that Soul Caliber's Ivy is shown exclusively in her sexy outfit, but not her nearly completely covering "George Washington" attire, one of her default outfits.

Characters in games are typically designed to various ideals that are impossible or unlikely to be present in real life. Most men aren't going to look like Mike Haggar or even Marth, most women aren't going to look like Ivy or Samus. This isn't an issue - most people want to play ideals in certain circumstances. However there are also elements or realism when important to the story. Look at GTA4 - no character, male or female, is a perfect ideal and that's part of the design and it works in that environment. Look at the sheer variety of character designs in Alpha Protocol; you have several romance options and at least 2 of them are (SIE and Madison) are not developed to be stereotypically hot. In fact, the most "normative" attractive member, Scarlett reacts negatively to attempts to compliment and spend time addressing her beauty, unless you know her very well: she wants to be taken seriously as a reporter. Mina, while attractive but not designed as "Asian Seductress" trope, has a similarly complex set of reactions that lead to what's most likely the most in-depth actual "relationship" in the game.

We have more variation in female characters than ever and while I grant there is a part of the male gamer market that is hostile to females even asking question, I think it is because the vast majority of the so-called "Feminists" who bring up topics often are the more hardcore variety from the "All sex with a man is rape, sky god killed mother earth, Womyn" camp as opposed to the "Lets treat everyone equal" camp. To use a real life comparison, there are feminists who actively degrade other women for making the choice to stay home and raise their children while their partner brings in money - a perfectly respectable choice and excellent for the offspring. However, these feminists are truly no better than the old school chauvinists in that they are trying to limit the definition of valid choices for women, just on another path. They bring this same line of belief to games that somehow if every female character isn't "I am woman hear me roar, I don't do anything for the benefit of any MAN anywhere" somehow it isn't a modern valid role for a woman. That's wrong as well.

Much like racial and religious groups that make critical statements of video games, the feminist community tends to bring its extremes: the moderates and more reasonable folks don't typically find the need to bring forth these sorts of issues as they just aren't that big a deal without extremist beliefs.

Tin Man:

internetzealot1:

Oh, and does anyone think its ironic that Gears of War is probably one of the better games in this area?

Firstly, why would it be ironic? People don't appreciate the characterisation of the sub-cast in Gears games... Fenix and Dom are kinda lame, I'll be the first to admit, but Coletrain, Tai, Prescott, Hoffman, Dizzy, Jack, Carmine the 1st... I could go on.

Secondly, sci-fi in games and film has given us some of the best female characters going, Ellen Ripley, Sarah Connor, Lt. Mira(Space Marine), Liara(ME2 moreso then 1 imo, she was much more capable and believable in that game) and Samus(pre other M) to name but a few and none of the females in gears are sexed at all but Sam and Bernie are stand out example of chicks getting shit done for me. Lt. Mira especially is getting some serious applause from certain crowds, and for good reason.

Its just that whenever people talk about immature games with mature content, they tend to bring up Gears of War.

Oroboros:
It's embarrassing how many people are trying to excuse female objectification in video games by saying it happens to men as well by pointing to all of the beefy conan-space-marine types. people seem to be completely missing the point. Muscle bound men are seen as sexually attractive in popular culture, but this sort of body structure is also seen as 'Heroic'. The strong male character looks like someone who is capable of taking his knocks and giving a beating to the bad guys, whomever they may be. The common female character in video games or other media is considerably less muscular, instead of focusing on how strong and physically capable she is, games, movies, etc instead routinely focus on their sexuality. As pointed out in the video, they are frequently put into suggestive poses and either have a coquettish expression, if they have an expression at all.

ReiverCorrupter:

cbert:

I would agree with the "money is your vote." Often, this is why I don't buy triple-A titles. The indie and art game scene has none of this "feminist problem;" feminists are instead seen as assets, and feminist criticism is useful.

Women might not purchase as many copies of extreme tits volleyball, but the point is moot. We appear to have a lack of Trip-A titles marketed towards a good 42% (and growing) of the market share. That's not just misogynistic, that's bad business.

Publishers may be in it to make money, but I maintain a shred of hope that the Devs are aiming for something higher (maybe art, even?). So I implore them to grow up and make their products worth taking seriously.

EDIT: There remains the underlying problem of the lack of female game creators, which is far, far less than the number of female gamers. There isn't so much of a "male conspiracy" as there is a serious sausage fest in the dev departments.

Well, like I said, if it really is a marketing mistake then the system should correct for itself. Someone will come out with a game that appeals more to women and it will sell more than its competitors because more women will buy it. Problem solved. Eventually someone at EA or some other place is going to realize the size of the female market and take advantage of it. That's how capitalism works. I'm not a full libertarian or anything, in fact I'd like to see some things at least be partly socialized so that everyone can afford it (for instance very basic things like health care), but this is the kind of thing that capitalism is great at doing.

And no, most devs are likely in it to get paychecks so they can afford food. Sure, I think most of them probably enjoy their jobs, but they're still in it to make a living. 'Art' has become a meaningless and pretentious term. It used to simply be something that was created in order to be appreciated for its beauty. Now it seems that beauty isn't enough and art has to have some sort of insipid message so it can 'make people think'. What rubbish. The only valid way to argue for something is with cold and rational argumentation, everything else is either propaganda or sophistry. Games are a form of entertainment, they don't need to be anything else. They can create an emotional response in the player or they could just be mindless violence, it really just comes down to what the consumer wants out of their product.

It's seriously distressing how you don't seem to understand that "the system should correct for itself." is false. The system has found something marketable- in this case the sexual objectification of women, and there is no reason to think that it will stop marketing this image as long as it makes money. This is not harmless, and this image is not marketed solely towards men, as some have attempted to argue. One need look no further then the multitude of women who subject themselves disorders to Bulimia or Anorexia in order to fit into the marketed 'ideal' of feminine beauty.

The Gilded Age if nothing else provides plenty of material on the ability of capitalism to damage society in the pursuit of capital. There is no proof that capitalism, left on its own, naturally trends towards the benign.

Art does not exist in a vacuum, it is influenced by culture and with the way sexuality is marketed in today's world,sexuality and sexism is very much a relevant topic in regards to art. As for games, regardless of whether you think of them as art or not, they are not created in a vacuum either-they are influenced by culture-they are in no way simply 'entertainment'.

You missed out on half of the conversation. We weren't arguing about whether video games will stop objectifying women. I agree, they won't because there is a market for it. I was instead arguing that the market will offer more games geared towards women that DO NOT objectify them because there is a market audience for those types of games.

Do you really think that the 'objectification of women' is caused by some evil Hegelian world spirit that possesses mankind? The objectification of women has its roots in the male sex drive.

Let me explain this in terms of evolution. The adaptation that makes human beings successful is our ability to reason. The problem is that in order to develop our ability to reason we have inexorably long developmental cycles where our young are vulnerable for about ten years. This has lead to specialization between the sexes. Women have a nine month pregnancy, and then must nurse and take care of the children. This meant that physical strength was impractical for them. Instead they developed to be physically weaker than men because they were charged with foraging and raising children. Men, on the other hand, became charged with hunting and fighting. This made them the natural leaders of society because they were the ones who had to decide where to go in order to follow their prey. The relationship stayed this way for most of human history. Now that physical prowess is no longer the deciding factor for leadership, there is no reason why the sexes can't be on equal footing. The problem is that this is a fairly new development and it has to go against millions of years of evolution.

Frankly, I don't regard sexuality as a bad thing. The important thing isn't that men and women see each other in a completely asexual manner, it's that they recognize that the important factor for how someone functions in society is their intelligence. That being said, I really don't see how censoring everything that tends to objectify men or women is going to change much of anything.

Frankly you're confusing cause and effect, the images in the media are merely a symptom of the underlying values of society. It isn't capitalism that is to blame. Capitalism is merely an economic system, it isn't a value system. It's consumerism. If society still had a strong emphasis on family connections, then people would get their values from their families. But parents don't raise their children anymore, they set them in front of the TV. So is it any wonder why people get their values from the media? A consumerist society will treat people as sex objects to be possessed because it defines life in terms of how many objects you can possess. The problem is that American culture wasn't strong enough to handle capitalism.

You don't have to have an iron will to resist the images in the media, your parents just had to raise you with a little backbone. But as long as parents are lazy people are going to be slaves to the popular media. Trying to change the media itself is an uphill battle that I'm afraid you can't win. Maybe in a socialist society where the government completely controlled the media it would be possible, but in our capitalist society it is always going to take advantage of the market. Sex sells. If you want it to stop selling people are going to have to stop buying it.

RanceJustice:
I'm glad Bob explained that the vast majority of female gamers have no problem with "sexy" character design. However, I feel that he stumbled on the issue of posing more than anything. In fact, I think this is actually an excellent example of gaming equality - in many cases, both the character's appearance and the pose/attitude personality are basically a set of ideals.

When he went through the male characters poses, he correctly identified a lot of what they were presenting. However, it appears the female poses he chose a different interpretation simply to make a point. Is Mike Haggar's "Arm up, implying strength" pose a comfortable or normal way for a man to stand? No of course not, its just as much of a "I could be looking in the mirror or showing off for the player" as a female character cocking her hips to the side. Both male and female characters embody various tropes that go through their character design. Morrigan Aesland is a succubus, her entire character is designed around sex in accordance with legends predating video games; we'd expect her poses to suggest exuding temptation and danger.

Hah, no. (Almost) every female video game character is already constantly striking sexual poses, so we aren't informed that Morrigan is a succubus because she's exuding sexuality, but rather because she exudes bats. For years I thought she was a vampire.

The problem isn't the sexy designs, or the fact that the characters are striking poses. Of course they're striking poses, the designers are trying to communicate information about the character with it. Here, let me pull an example from the latest street fighter game, where all the characters are sexually attractive paragons of humanity, even the men. (One's a big muscly dude with almost no clothes who oils up before every fight.)

Specifically, let's look at the pre-fight introduction poses.

image

There's Juri. Yes, like every other female character she's slender and young. Yes, she wears a shirt that is a handkerchief tied in place over her chest. But her pose tells us a lot about her. It says she's ready to fight, and that she's quite confident--the wide, aggressive stance, and the fact she's leaning into the challenge says she's excited about the upcoming fight. She looks cruel, she looks evil, and her eye thing is eye thinging, which tells us she's a borderline crazy person. So we've got a violent fighter who's about to hurl herself into the fray, and if you're not careful she'll probably eat one of your ears.

This is a fine pose for a fighter.

image

This is Cammy. Like Juri, she's a genetically engineered supersoldier with a sexy body and not very much in the way of clothing. Unlike Juri, this pose doesn't suggest her attitude about the upcoming fight, or how she's going to act in that fight. It does suggest that she's sexually available. Look at my ass, this pose says. I bet you could insert something into it. Can you think of anything fun to put in my ass?

This is a fine pose for a porn star.

Both are dangerous, sexy women with ludicrous backstories and not very much clothing. But one is being presented as a threat, and one is being presented as a fantasy.

Look at the sheer variety of character designs in Alpha Protocol; you have several romance options and at least 2 of them are (SIE and Madison) are not developed to be stereotypically hot. In fact, the most "normative" attractive member, Scarlett reacts negatively to attempts to compliment and spend time addressing her beauty, unless you know her very well: she wants to be taken seriously as a reporter. Mina, while attractive but not designed as "Asian Seductress" trope, has a similarly complex set of reactions that lead to what's most likely the most in-depth actual "relationship" in the game.

Are you kidding? SIE, the slender, large-breasted Caucasian woman in a tiny, tight shirt, with long blonde hair in a pony tail is not stereotypically hot? Madison is less of a goofy cutout, but she's still a thin white chick with a low cut to her shirt and too much makeup. Just because she's not smuggling balloons doesn't make her a shining testament to diversity in female character design.

Every romance in a chatty RPG is equally terrible, because they all play out the same way--tell a woman what she wants to hear, who cares if it's a lie, and you are rewarded with off-screen sex.

Here, five sentence romance FAQ for Alpha Protocol.

SIE: Be aggressive, B - E - Aggressive.
Scarlett: Be professional and send her news stories.
Madison: Promise to protect her with your big manly arms, and don't flirt until you take her home.
Mina: Don't shoot very many hostages, and be professional, she is a reward for playing nice.

All girls: If one asks about another, say, "She didn't mean nothing to me, baby, it's you I'm thinkin' of."

Ladies' Man!
(Treated four women like objects achievement unlocked)

MysticMongol:

RanceJustice:
I'm glad Bob explained that the vast majority of female gamers have no problem with "sexy" character design. However, I feel that he stumbled on the issue of posing more than anything. In fact, I think this is actually an excellent example of gaming equality - in many cases, both the character's appearance and the pose/attitude personality are basically a set of ideals.

When he went through the male characters poses, he correctly identified a lot of what they were presenting. However, it appears the female poses he chose a different interpretation simply to make a point. Is Mike Haggar's "Arm up, implying strength" pose a comfortable or normal way for a man to stand? No of course not, its just as much of a "I could be looking in the mirror or showing off for the player" as a female character cocking her hips to the side. Both male and female characters embody various tropes that go through their character design. Morrigan Aesland is a succubus, her entire character is designed around sex in accordance with legends predating video games; we'd expect her poses to suggest exuding temptation and danger.

Hah, no. (Almost) every female video game character is already constantly striking sexual poses, so we aren't informed that Morrigan is a succubus because she's exuding sexuality, but rather because she exudes bats. For years I thought she was a vampire.

The problem isn't the sexy designs, or the fact that the characters are striking poses. Of course they're striking poses, the designers are trying to communicate information about the character with it. Here, let me pull an example from the latest street fighter game, where all the characters are sexually attractive paragons of humanity, even the men. (One's a big muscly dude with almost no clothes who oils up before every fight.)

Specifically, let's look at the pre-fight introduction poses.

image

There's Juri. Yes, like every other female character she's slender and young. Yes, she wears a shirt that is a handkerchief tied in place over her chest. But her pose tells us a lot about her. It says she's ready to fight, and that she's quite confident--the wide, aggressive stance, and the fact she's leaning into the challenge says she's excited about the upcoming fight. She looks cruel, she looks evil, and her eye thing is eye thinging, which tells us she's a borderline crazy person. So we've got a violent fighter who's about to hurl herself into the fray, and if you're not careful she'll probably eat one of your ears.

This is a fine pose for a fighter.

image

This is Cammy. Like Juri, she's a genetically engineered supersoldier with a sexy body and not very much in the way of clothing. Unlike Juri, this pose doesn't suggest her attitude about the upcoming fight, or how she's going to act in that fight. It does suggest that she's sexually available. Look at my ass, this pose says. I bet you could insert something into it. Can you think of anything fun to put in my ass?

This is a fine pose for a porn star.

Both are dangerous, sexy women with ludicrous backstories and not very much clothing. But one is being presented as a threat, and one is being presented as a fantasy.

Look at the sheer variety of character designs in Alpha Protocol; you have several romance options and at least 2 of them are (SIE and Madison) are not developed to be stereotypically hot. In fact, the most "normative" attractive member, Scarlett reacts negatively to attempts to compliment and spend time addressing her beauty, unless you know her very well: she wants to be taken seriously as a reporter. Mina, while attractive but not designed as "Asian Seductress" trope, has a similarly complex set of reactions that lead to what's most likely the most in-depth actual "relationship" in the game.

Are you kidding? SIE, the slender, large-breasted Caucasian woman in a tiny, tight shirt, with long blonde hair in a pony tail is not stereotypically hot? Madison is less of a goofy cutout, but she's still a thin white chick with a low cut to her shirt and too much makeup. Just because she's not smuggling balloons doesn't make her a shining testament to diversity in female character design.

Every romance in a chatty RPG is equally terrible, because they all play out the same way--tell a woman what she wants to hear, who cares if it's a lie, and you are rewarded with off-screen sex.

Here, five sentence romance FAQ for Alpha Protocol.

SIE: Be aggressive, B - E - Aggressive.
Scarlett: Be professional and send her news stories.
Madison: Promise to protect her with your big manly arms, and don't flirt until you take her home.
Mina: Don't shoot very many hostages, and be professional, she is a reward for playing nice.

All girls: If one asks about another, say, "She didn't mean nothing to me, baby, it's you I'm thinkin' of."

Ladies' Man!
(Treated four women like objects achievement unlocked)

What a load of bullshit. That's the 'gameplay' mechanic of every single romance portion of an RPG ... and specially of Alpha Protocol where you are expected to act certain way with people to well achieve your goal ... since one of the agent many talent is apparently his aptitude to manipulate people. Having meaningful and realistic relationship in a game, specially one where you are on the run would be ludicrous. I don't see Thorton proposing to Madison anytime soon, going to church to tie the knot with Madburg behind his tail. Though that would make for a pretty funny cliche battle ... in a church.

This romance system works with MALES (ALISTAIR, ZEVRAN, OGREN, OOOOOGREEEEEN!!!11111) as well as with FEMALES. And Mikey is just building up a relationship with these women over a LONG period of time. It's not like he is "hey babe, let's fuck now ... I got a world to save after all". And if it wasn't enough, all those relationships are doomed to failure ... something that's rare in other games (lol, Mass Effect).

And you just got to roleplay as an asshole ... congrats. At least one game is doing something right about roleplaying, instead of being SUPA EVIL or SUPER GOOOOOOD (lol, kotor).

Personally, I would rather have a bromance with Steven Heck, because you know ... he is awesome. And doesn't have a secret that will bite you in the cheeks, like either of those 4 romance option have.

About the sexy clothing of Cammy, I may not be a SF player, that sure looks like a decent distraction for her hapless opponents ... like poor Balrog.

Wow, this board has a much fucking larger proportion of sexist bigots than I expected. "Women are already equal in every way!" Really? You are really that blind? You've yet again shattered my naive illusions that I belong to a progressive or thoughtful fan community. I suppose I have only myself to blame though.

MysticMongol:

I forgot:
This argument is weak.... some actually did portray the character (Morrigan and Mai). Those complaining about a sexy pose are being presumptive and ignoring everything else that can show character, like the facial expression.

Please understand that when the complaint is, "Almost all female video game characters are portrayed as sluts and whores," responding, "Some of them actually are sluts and whores!" is not any better.

longboardfan:

As for feminism:
I have been maced just for sitting down at a table adjacent to a table where a woman sat in a public cafeteria (and afterwards screamed at for being a dirty filthy male).

You were assaulted in a cafeteria, unprovoked? That isn't an example of the matriarchy coming down on you like a fist, that's an example of crime. Or it would be, if there was any reason to believe this actually happened.

I didn't say they were sluts and whores, you did and to me this is what's representative of the problem. That a woman striking a sexy pose immediately makes them a whore or a slut and any woman who can be attributed to sex or sexuality is immediately demonized.

omegawyrm:
Wow, this board has a much fucking larger proportion of sexist bigots than I expected. "Women are already equal in every way!" Really? You are really that blind? You've yet again shattered my naive illusions that I belong to a progressive or thoughtful fan community. I suppose I have only myself to blame though.

It's kay. The world has a much fucking larger proportion of sexist bigots towards men, specially minority men since as far as I remember I have always been told I am a barbaric 'muslim' man who like to keep the women down ... for the past fucking 7-8 years ... in every fucking elective class I have been to.

Also, you fail to point out which argument is wrong and how it is wrong. But thanks for painting everyone in the community who disagrees with you as sexist bigots. It's kay, men are supposed to have a thick skin ... apparently.

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