Tropes vs. Women Protagonists

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DioWallachia:

KrystelCandy:

Indeed.

Empowering.

As for 'power implications' not being attractive well... there's an entire market that revolves around that kind of thing. You might have heard about it, if not, someone else can inform you I'm sure.

Nearly everything Bayonetta does is eye candy, her entire voice and the lines she says is filled heavily with innuendo and breathyness.

The only thing empowering about Bayonetta is she's female and can fight.

Here is a video that may help (not really) to understand Bayonneta. Courtesy of Movie Bob:

Sorry, I usually agree with Movie Bob, but I totally disagree with him here. While she may be more naturally proportionate than other female characters, even Bob admits she was designed to be primarily a sexual character for the enjoyment of male gamers, just in a different way than other characters, such as Bob's examples of Chun-Li and Cammy, are. Knowing what I do of feminism, there are certainly different strands of feminism that would react to Bayonetta's characterization in different ways. Some, from what I gather, would indeed see it as Bob does, that her intimidating sexual nature can be a source of empowerment. But given the average demographic that most game developers shoot for, and reading the interviews with Bayonetta developers such as those quoted above, I don't believe that's exactly what the developers were going for, and I think the game speaks for itself in that matter: Bayonetta, in her visual character design and her moves, while certainly badass, is meant to be primarily eye candy for male gamers. She was not meant to be an empowering figure for women. I mean, just look at the way she fights in-game. Standing on her head in flexible, suggestive poses to fire the guns on her feet? Transforming her hair, which is also her clothing, into weapons, effectively stripping her clothing off to use her ultimate attacks, also standing in suggestive poses while doing that? Yeah, that's TOTALLY in there to be empowering to female players... (/sarcasm)

As I said before, I do agree with Bob on a lot of things, but we just don't see eye-to-eye when it comes to women in pop culture designed for nerds, such as Sucker Punch and Bayonetta (though we do agree about Other M). A lot of other gamers don't agree with his views on women either. But he has his own view on it, I have mine, and female gamers have theirs, and there will be differences of opinion.

I think the problem is that games are just showing an extension of a problem that exists in every medium (and forgive me, I can't remember who I'm stealing this from, but it wasn't about videogames).

The range of stories written about women as characters is vastly narrower than those written about men as characters. Whilst male protagonists exist in a wide variety of stories, stories about adventure, revenge, romance, fatherhood, coming of age, crime, self-respect, justice, and so on; stories about women are almost always either about romance or motherhood. There are exceptions, but they're few and far between.

This is one of the biggest reasons we have so few female protagonists in gaming, because gaming rarely delves into those two stories that women get to be the protagonist in.

The irony is that all of the things that Anita Sarkeesian complains about, either about games or other media, would be far less noticeable against a background where women as protagonists were in balance with men as protagonists in the variety of story types that were told about them.

Nice to see you back so soon.

I will usually choose a female character when I have the option. Borderlands was the first time I shifted in that I played the Solder but I was playing co-op with my son and he went for the Hunter. Later I ran the Siren and she was an incredibly powerful character.

I disagree on Bayonetta as she is a very powerful woman. My adult daughter loves her and the warrior from Heavenly Sword as well.

Toriver:

Sorry, I usually agree with Movie Bob, but I totally disagree with him here. While she may be more naturally proportionate than other female characters, even Bob admits she was designed to be primarily a sexual character for the enjoyment of male gamers, just in a different way than other characters, such as Bob's examples of Chun-Li and Cammy, are. Knowing what I do of feminism, there are certainly different strands of feminism that would react to Bayonetta's characterization in different ways. Some, from what I gather, would indeed see it as Bob does, that her intimidating sexual nature can be a source of empowerment. But given the average demographic that most game developers shoot for, and reading the interviews with Bayonetta developers such as those quoted above, I don't believe that's exactly what the developers were going for, and I think the game speaks for itself in that matter: Bayonetta, in her visual character design and her moves, while certainly badass, is meant to be primarily eye candy for male gamers. She was not meant to be an empowering figure for women. I mean, just look at the way she fights in-game. Standing on her head in flexible, suggestive poses to fire the guns on her feet? Transforming her hair, which is also her clothing, into weapons, effectively stripping her clothing off to use her ultimate attacks, also standing in suggestive poses while doing that? Yeah, that's TOTALLY in there to be empowering to female players... (/sarcasm)

As I said before, I do agree with Bob on a lot of things, but we just don't see eye-to-eye when it comes to women in pop culture designed for nerds, such as Sucker Punch and Bayonetta (though we do agree about Other M). A lot of other gamers don't agree with his views on women either. But he has his own view on it, I have mine, and female gamers have theirs, and there will be differences of opinion.

That is why i said that it may (NOT) help :D

Then again, i wonder how much is a developer or artist allowed to speak about this kind of details? i mean, if what Bob says its true, then wont that mean that the developer is flat out INSULTING the audience by making an impossible woman and saying by subtle moments that "the audience" doesnt have a chance? Or to put it in another way, what would you feel when you have to EXPLAIN you magnus opus to the audience? isnt that a failure on the artist ability to deliver a message?

Hell, how Orson Welles would have felt when pressed about the issue that Kane was inspired in part by William Randolph Hearst? the shitstorm was about to hit the fan as soon he said "yes".

In the other hand, now i am perplexed on WHY do you agree with Bob on the Other M thing.

Shamus Young:
Tropes vs. Women Protagonists

Women want to play games too, and right now, games are failing them.

Read Full Article

Interestingly, I've thought that many games and stories are vastly improved when the main character isn't the hero. (Harry Potter comes to mind as a quick-an'-dirty example -- he didn't really save a thing, so much as he was the banner around which many other heroic people rallied.)

But I'm not entirely sure that Sarkeesian is missing the point. She's focusing on these tropes because you can really only find female characters that are "second banana." And it may very well be that these tropes (and their predilection toward being foisted upon women) are the reason there aren't many female protagonists -- why would I want a protagonist that is X or Y, as women so typically are, right?

We won't get any writers/developers to buy into female-aimed female protagonists until we deal with how they currently (on the whole) view women characters. Changing what they DO before changing how they THINK is how we got things like Bayonetta and [/i]Lollipop Chainsaw[/i] -- they do something that approximates 'right,' but fails because it lacks the correct reasoning.

GloatingSwine:
I think the problem is that games are just showing an extension of a problem that exists in every medium (and forgive me, I can't remember who I'm stealing this from, but it wasn't about videogames).

The range of stories written about women as characters is vastly narrower than those written about men as characters. Whilst male protagonists exist in a wide variety of stories, stories about adventure, revenge, romance, fatherhood, coming of age, crime, self-respect, justice, and so on; stories about women are almost always either about romance or motherhood. There are exceptions, but they're few and far between.

This is one of the biggest reasons we have so few female protagonists in gaming, because gaming rarely delves into those two stories that women get to be the protagonist in.

The irony is that all of the things that Anita Sarkeesian complains about, either about games or other media, would be far less noticeable against a background where women as protagonists were in balance with men as protagonists in the variety of story types that were told about them.

That is kinda my point. I would expect that, if you bring a woman into the equation, then you MUST do something important with her in the story, otherwise it just something interchangeable between man and woman.

Now, i believe that thanks to Free Will, humans can end up being whatever the fuck they want given the proper context (also applies to fiction), so logically as long a woman acts like a human being first, she can be whatever the author needs her to do (loving the irony of having a POWERLESS ficticional being being "free" to do whatever)

However i still dont grasp how OTHER people see this. Lets take for example Ripley from Aliens. Even Feminism Frecuency uses her as proof that women can be compelling protagonist, however she fails to mention that she was originally going to be played by a male actor, and after changing to Sigourney Weaver, the script was left intact.
So what does this mean for you all? do we like her because she was reasonably well written or you are just pointing fingers at her like she was the standard of all females and not thinking this carefully?

Oh, just for disclosure, i dont think a woman can write OTHER womans properly (i dont even need to point this out, but i am sure you ALL know that Twilight was written by a woman). I would have liked to know HOW is a female that shows the motherhood theme properly or a female on the eyes of Anita, but unfortunatelly she doesnt provide any useful information nor wants to talk properly.

DioWallachia:
[
However i still dont grasp how OTHER people see this. Lets take for example Ripley from Aliens. Even Feminism Frecuency uses her as proof that women can be compelling protagonist, however she fails to mention that she was originally going to be played by a male actor, and after changing to Sigourney Weaver, the script was left intact.
So what does this mean for you all? do we like her because she was reasonably well written or you are just pointing fingers at her like she was the standard of all females and not thinking this carefully?

Well, I can't speak for others, but I like her because she was well-written. I don't care about what the original intentions were behind the script; I only care about the end-product that we got. And the end-product we got has an excellent female lead that puts most others (males included) to shame.

BreakfastMan:

DioWallachia:
[
However i still dont grasp how OTHER people see this. Lets take for example Ripley from Aliens. Even Feminism Frecuency uses her as proof that women can be compelling protagonist, however she fails to mention that she was originally going to be played by a male actor, and after changing to Sigourney Weaver, the script was left intact.
So what does this mean for you all? do we like her because she was reasonably well written or you are just pointing fingers at her like she was the standard of all females and not thinking this carefully?

Well, I can't speak for others, but I like her because she was well-written. I don't care about what the original intentions were behind the script; I only care about the end-product that we got. And the end-product we got has an excellent female lead that puts most others (males included) to shame.

So you dont feel tricked that the most popular female is male minded....sort off?

"Mirror's Edge"? "bad"? Excuse me?

I like that you take time to mention that there's nothing wrong with HAVING sexy characters, but it's the fact that almost ALL female characters are there for sexiness that is the real problem. The thing a lot of Escapists who are on Sarkeesian's side don't seem to realize is, there's nothing wrong with fantasizing. We're beyond the puritanical days of a theocratic society teaching us that arousal is a bad thing. But for some reason people seem to revert straight back to those old school "lust is a sin!" mindsets as soon as someone dares to want to get aroused from a video game.

It's not the sexiness that's a problem. People have a right to be attractive and attractive characters have a right to exist. The problem is that scantily-clad and shapely is usually the only option if you want to play a female.

DioWallachia:

Walter Byers:

See Persona 3 Portable's female main character. Yes, she is a silent protagonist and the player is the one ultimately deciding her personalty.

Do you expect a protagonist of a RPG to act in another way? they will always start with a pre determined personality and end up shaped by the actions during gameplay (like IJI), so i dont know why the need to clarify that.

Umm. The other option is to have the protagonist completely controlled by the writers. As in the player has zero choices to how the protagonist acts. Even in gameplay you have no other choice than to move from point a to point b.

DioWallachia:

BreakfastMan:

DioWallachia:
[
However i still dont grasp how OTHER people see this. Lets take for example Ripley from Aliens. Even Feminism Frecuency uses her as proof that women can be compelling protagonist, however she fails to mention that she was originally going to be played by a male actor, and after changing to Sigourney Weaver, the script was left intact.
So what does this mean for you all? do we like her because she was reasonably well written or you are just pointing fingers at her like she was the standard of all females and not thinking this carefully?

Well, I can't speak for others, but I like her because she was well-written. I don't care about what the original intentions were behind the script; I only care about the end-product that we got. And the end-product we got has an excellent female lead that puts most others (males included) to shame.

So you dont feel tricked that the most popular female is male minded....sort off?

No. Like I said, I care not for the intentions of the creators, I only care for how the end-product turned out. And the end product has a fantastic female character. Her gender is not what is important about her; it is her character itself, and think that is what makes her so memorable.

Also, as a bit of an end-note, I don't think her character is male-minded, just unsexualized. Big difference.

DioWallachia:

BreakfastMan:

DioWallachia:
[
However i still dont grasp how OTHER people see this. Lets take for example Ripley from Aliens. Even Feminism Frecuency uses her as proof that women can be compelling protagonist, however she fails to mention that she was originally going to be played by a male actor, and after changing to Sigourney Weaver, the script was left intact.
So what does this mean for you all? do we like her because she was reasonably well written or you are just pointing fingers at her like she was the standard of all females and not thinking this carefully?

Well, I can't speak for others, but I like her because she was well-written. I don't care about what the original intentions were behind the script; I only care about the end-product that we got. And the end-product we got has an excellent female lead that puts most others (males included) to shame.

So you dont feel tricked that the most popular female is male minded....sort off?

Her character is more than just the concept that was created before Alien was even filmed.

GloatingSwine:
The range of stories written about women as characters is vastly narrower than those written about men as characters. Whilst male protagonists exist in a wide variety of stories, stories about adventure, revenge, romance, fatherhood, coming of age, crime, self-respect, justice, and so on; stories about women are almost always either about romance or motherhood. There are exceptions, but they're few and far between.

And you don't see this as a problem? It's a big reason why Tropes vs. Women even exists.

Belated:

I like that you take time to mention that there's nothing wrong with HAVING sexy characters, but it's the fact that almost ALL female characters are there for sexiness that is the real problem. The thing a lot of Escapists who are on Sarkeesian's side don't seem to realize is, there's nothing wrong with fantasizing. We're beyond the puritanical days of a theocratic society teaching us that arousal is a bad thing. But for some reason people seem to revert straight back to those old school "lust is a sin!" mindsets as soon as someone dares to want to get aroused from a video game.

It's not the sexiness that's a problem. People have a right to be attractive and attractive characters have a right to exist. The problem is that scantily-clad and shapely is usually the only option if you want to play a female.

You hit the nail on the head, and I think the same can be said for a lot of other tropes. They are not intrinsically sexist; they become sexist when it is the majority, when examples to the contrary are so rare, that it becomes a problem. Same with racism, really; an Asian character who is good at math is not racist by itself (there are many Asian people who are good at math). It becomes racist when they are given nothing else to do but be good at math. :P

Perception is a tricky thing. Author's perception, audience's perception, not to mention the range of perceptions within those.

Just in this thread we've got Bayonetta as sexually empowered and sexually exploited, Ripley as a good empowered woman unless you consider she would've been a man in another lifetime, and even bringing up how the chunks of angry muscle that are the "male fantasy" are considered paradigm in one place and immature idiots in another.

Personally, I think it makes a good case for making a wider variety to pick from, which I know Shamus has mentioned before. Lot more variety in our male characters than our female ones, protagonist or not. One strong female I'd like to play more is one that doesn't need to be a badass. I don't need a shooty, slicey, killy lady every time there's a strong female protagonist. Sometimes I just want to be a Laura Bow, even if it means I can't run when being chased because of my dress.

The Japanese RPG is in steep decline. Blame FPS shooters and Fighting Games.

Feminists rage against the portrayal of women in video games. Blame FPS Shooters and Fighting Games.

Video games are being increasingly targeted towards a more casual audience Blame FPS Shooters and Fighting Games.

Can't find a game with a colour palette that doesn't look like an accident in a paint factory Blame FPS Shooters and Fighting Games.

Some niche genre with a tiny audience cannot realistically afford to put together the cash to pay for a new rendition of the same old, tired and worn formula because half of its already near insignificant audience will immediately declare it worse than Genocide and go back and play a game from a decade ago for 15 minutes before getting bored with that and return to fruitlessly pine for lightning to be caught in a bottle. Again. Blame FPS Shooters and Fighting Games.

Some game franchise switches genres (Generally to an FPS) because in an increasingly cutthroat market more and more middleweight developers are being squeezed out of business due to a burgeoning Indie market (If you're going to earn a small serving of peanuts working for somebody, or earn a small serving of peanuts working for yourself, then you might as well work for yourself.) and increasingly uncaring, unfeeling corporate monoliths. Blame FPS Shooters and Fighting Games.

Unavoidable worldwide bacon shortage. Blame FPS Shooters and Fighting Games.

Is there anything FPS Shooters and Fighting Games cannot be blamed for?

But back to the topic at hand.

The root cause of the problem as I see it is not that we don't have enough women playing video games, but quite the opposite. The elephant in the room that nobody seems to want to address is that this is now the year 2012, and we now have far "too many" women playing video games, but not the "right" sort of video games and it is that increased competition for economic resources amongst gaming companies that is essentially fucking over women who cross an increasingly demographically gendered line to play with the boys. No, it isn't right. No, it isn't fair. But ultimately that's life. Pioneers are hardly ever happy about the rest of civilisation catching up to them after they've done the hard work and blazed the trail for others to follow.

Did we not see the same sort of corporate min/maxing behaviour occur when video games went mainstream? Entire genres of games have been driven into extinction when gaming went mainstream, or if they have been extremely lucky then instead been culled to a few hardy stragglers that openly defy the changing tastes of the market.

To take a fatalist approach despite taking me completely by surprise, with the benefit of hindsight this is the outcome that is to be expected from the casual revolution. The hardcore audience is just simply on the wrong side of it, and while the women are copping it now I think it would be entirely naive not to imagine that sooner or later the rest of us are going to face the sharp end of the stick.

There's an article on Gaming Excellence I've been wanting to plug on this topic.

http://www.gamingexcellence.com/features/the-top-five-mistakes-were-all-making-with-women-in-gaming

While ti makes a few points, the prevalent one here is that we are too focused on the physical. Lara Croft is intelligent, athletic, multi talented non damsel of which all girls (and guys for that matter) should aspire to, but to hear the complaints, the entirety of her character is summed up in her breasts. That's not from the guys, but the women complaining about Lara's physique. Bayonetta, Ivy Valentine, Juliet, ect, all characters whose strength and personality are overshadowed by thought that guys will find them sexually attractive. Now I could into how there is not a female body type that isn't arousing to someone (yes, somewhere you there are guys that think Fat Princess is doable,) rather I'll point out the hypocracy of not wanting guys to judge women based on how they look, only to gloss over characters that look too sexy and make character assumptions. The author of the above article, Liana Kerzner, not only has cosplayed the likes of power girl, she's built well enough to do so without padding her bra (do your own google image search), and to paraphrase her words, this kind of judgement calls her a slut out the door just because her grew breasts and doesn't feel she should dress to hide them.

Equating sexy with sexist just makes the debate sound like evil feminists trying to hide attractive women due to their own shortcomings. This isn't to say there isn't an argument that the market isn't saturated with female eyecandy, and that games could do with some realistic looking women not designed to sell wallscrolls and PVC statues, and aren't reduced to mute mannequins for 95% of the game. But we don't do any woman any favor if we can't see beyond her chest, one way or the other. If anything, we may have to admit, explorers like Lara Croft or martial artists like the DOA girls are in physically demanding roles and would probably be in better physical shape than normal girls.

Shamus, I love you. I've been saying for a while there's plenty to complain about in Anita's work, but the stuff the outrage was over wasn't it.

With that....

So what should a proper female lead look like?

I don't think there's any specific "look," per se. However, modest attire and reasonable bodies are a good start. Chell was a good example, though most of the time you don't see her.

Where do you draw the line between "attractive" and "cheap pandering cheesecake"?

You know that line about pornography, "I'll know it when I see it?"

Which female leads resonate with women? Which ones repel them?

There's no right answer here, because women want different things. Like men. Or any other way you want to split the demographic.

Is it better to have a variable gender protagonist like in Fable II where you can choose a gender that basically doesn't matter, or is it better to have a protagonist with a specifically crafted character?

It's better to have both, really. In this day and age, there's little reason not to have selectable gender and race. However, there really should be solid female protagonists out there. They don't need to be the majority or even equal, but existing would be nice.

What genres of action-type badassery are most attractive to females, and would make a good starting point for a developer looking to court a female audience?

Treating women like the rest of the base would be a good start.

Mr Cwtchy:

As per usual, Shamus raises a good point, but what exactly is there to discuss here?

For starters, there is the block of questions Shamus asked above.

Azuaron:
It's interesting that you mention Bayonetta as made for guys, because I've heard from women gamers (including Susan Arendt, an editor at my favorite website) that they love Bayonetta as a strong female character.

Just because you can point to some women who like Bayo doesn't make her any less aimed at boys.

DioWallachia:
she is just calling sexist to anything she finds

Except she isn't, but it seems nobody is concerned with letting reality get in the way of a good rant.

(including ICO)

Possibly because it was.

DioWallachia:
I would expect that, if you bring a woman into the equation, then you MUST do something important with her in the story, otherwise it just something interchangeable between man and woman.

Are you saying that the only time you should have a female character is if her being female is important? If you are, then I strongly disagree. Male characters shouldn't be the default. We shouldn't be asking "does this character being a woman really matter?" any more often then we ask "does this character being a man really matter?"

I think part of the reason we have so many more interesting male characters than female ones is precisely because we don't care about the impact of gender when using a male character. Sure, in some stories it matters, but in others it doesn't. With male characters the emphasis is on the character, not the gender. With female characters the emphasis is on the gender, not the character. So when you have an interesting character who's gender doesn't matter, the character is made male. You only get female characters when being female matters, and as a result you have far fewer female characters, and thus fewer opportunities for good female characters.

DioWallachia:

So you dont feel tricked that the most popular female is male minded....sort off?

Except she's not. Not even "sort off."

I'm aware taking a simplistic look at things is more popular than looking at what actually happened, but Ripley changed significantly from the original script regardless.

As were several of the other characters.

The end result is not a "male minded" character.

DioWallachia:

BreakfastMan:

DioWallachia:
[
However i still dont grasp how OTHER people see this. Lets take for example Ripley from Aliens. Even Feminism Frecuency uses her as proof that women can be compelling protagonist, however she fails to mention that she was originally going to be played by a male actor, and after changing to Sigourney Weaver, the script was left intact.
So what does this mean for you all? do we like her because she was reasonably well written or you are just pointing fingers at her like she was the standard of all females and not thinking this carefully?

Well, I can't speak for others, but I like her because she was well-written. I don't care about what the original intentions were behind the script; I only care about the end-product that we got. And the end-product we got has an excellent female lead that puts most others (males included) to shame.

So you dont feel tricked that the most popular female is male minded....sort off?

In the real world, there is no such thing as 'emotionally or mentally male'. There isn't a trick. Women and men are not automatically different, and gender identity is not set in stone. If the gender of a character is irrelevant to their actual personality, it's testimony to the artist having a broad experience in life and meeting a wider variety of people.

How to write a minority or woman: They see themselves as who they really are, but society see's them as black, or female, or gay.

And there isn't supposed to be a standard for women in reality nor fiction. Same goes for men. The point of gender equality is freedom. Being free to pursue your own ideal regardless of gender, not being pressured into what someone else views as the ideal for your gender.

In AAA western gaming, there is a lack of story/character variety, which is the problem.

DioWallachia:

I know that all human beings have equally opportunity to be stupid in their own way, so gender or colour doesnt matter to me. But for the people who DO care about having Gender-Swap choice in a RPG (for example), i ask: Isnt that like some kind of Positive Discrimination? Both male and female are equal.....to the point that playing one or the other makes no diference EVEN on the context of the world they live in.

Is that what you people want? a game that doesnt bring up whatever implications or societal norms that the gender you selected MUST overcome or exploit for your RPG experience? That is the same as having Warrior - Mage - Thief, and people in the game still refer you as a Warrior even if you are a Mage. What is the point of having the gender thing if the writers are too busy doing nothing or wanking over the fact that they are not writing for Hollywood or something?

If they are going to use gender, it has to have MEANING. If you bring it up, then you must do something with it.

Please just look at my first post. I have never suggested that I don't want gender to not make a difference, I even go on to reference Buffy as a character that manages to maintain an air of badassery while being distinctly female gendered and not "woman that hits stuff". That's also why I point out that "dual-gendered protagonist" (ie. Cmd. Shephard) can not exist in games with strong, personal narratives, because in those games you need a well-defined protagonist.

It is also why I think Chell is kind of a bad example of a good female protagonist, because her gender (or lack thereof, apart from the fatty jokes in Portal 2 it never makes any real difference) is completely inconsequential and is more like an informed ability you get by looking at yourself through portals.

So yes, I do agree with you that I think gender has to have meaning. I am not saying every game has to make it super important and contain a fully researched and sourced discussion about gender theory, but it should at least be reflected in how your character is perceived by the rest of the cast.

EDIT: Also, thank you everyone who responded to my "accusations" against Chell. I am not necessarily saying I am making a complete reversal here and agreeing with you, but I'll definitely consider your points about her before discussing her more.

Walter Byers:

GloatingSwine:
The range of stories written about women as characters is vastly narrower than those written about men as characters. Whilst male protagonists exist in a wide variety of stories, stories about adventure, revenge, romance, fatherhood, coming of age, crime, self-respect, justice, and so on; stories about women are almost always either about romance or motherhood. There are exceptions, but they're few and far between.

And you don't see this as a problem? It's a big reason why Tropes vs. Women even exists.

Rly? because so far, she hasnt even TELL US what a "good" female character constitutes. Let alone how the theme of motherhood can be used without going sexist (like Other M)

DioWallachia:

Walter Byers:

GloatingSwine:
The range of stories written about women as characters is vastly narrower than those written about men as characters. Whilst male protagonists exist in a wide variety of stories, stories about adventure, revenge, romance, fatherhood, coming of age, crime, self-respect, justice, and so on; stories about women are almost always either about romance or motherhood. There are exceptions, but they're few and far between.

And you don't see this as a problem? It's a big reason why Tropes vs. Women even exists.

Rly? because so far, she hasnt even TELL US what a "good" female character constitutes. Let alone how the theme of motherhood can be used without going sexist (like Other M)

*cough, cough* Aliens *cough, cough* good example of how the theme of motherhood can work and not be sexist in an action sci-fi context *cough, cough*

Jakale:
Perception is a tricky thing. Author's perception, audience's perception, not to mention the range of perceptions within those.

Just in this thread we've got Bayonetta as sexually empowered and sexually exploited, Ripley as a good empowered woman unless you consider she would've been a man in another lifetime, and even bringing up how the chunks of angry muscle that are the "male fantasy" are considered paradigm in one place and immature idiots in another.

Personally, I think it makes a good case for making a wider variety to pick from, which I know Shamus has mentioned before. Lot more variety in our male characters than our female ones, protagonist or not. One strong female I'd like to play more is one that doesn't need to be a badass. I don't need a shooty, slicey, killy lady every time there's a strong female protagonist. Sometimes I just want to be a Laura Bow, even if it means I can't run when being chased because of my dress.

Zachary Amaranth:

DioWallachia:

So you dont feel tricked that the most popular female is male minded....sort off?

Except she's not. Not even "sort off."

I'm aware taking a simplistic look at things is more popular than looking at what actually happened, but Ripley changed significantly from the original script regardless.

As were several of the other characters.

The end result is not a "male minded" character.

I remember something about Anita, where she used a edited video with the song "Too Manny Dicks" and lots of male characters AND female (I belive they were: Nariko from Heavenly Sword, Chell from Portal and the woman from Mirror's Edge)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3LdMCp_y0M

Since we never get a straigh answer with this woman, we can only guess that she either put them there to demostrate how many womans are in AAA games or she simply thinks that those women dont count. Sort of like "No True Scottman" fallacy.

That is why i wanted to know under what perspective the bullshit of: "Ripley was a man on the script before changing it. That is why she seems more male oriented in mentality" would seem more like "cheating".

Overusedname:

In the real world, there is no such thing as 'emotionally or mentally male'. There isn't a trick. Women and men are not automatically different, and gender identity is not set in stone. If the gender of a character is irrelevant to their actual personality, it's testimony to the artist having a broad experience in life and meeting a wider variety of people.

How to write a minority or woman: They see themselves as who they really are, but society see's them as black, or female, or gay.

And there isn't supposed to be a standard for women in reality nor fiction. Same goes for men. The point of gender equality is freedom. Being free to pursue your own ideal regardless of gender, not being pressured into what someone else views as the ideal for your gender.

In AAA western gaming, there is a lack of story/character variety, which is the problem.

I know there isnt a trick, i know there SHOULDNT be one, but even i am starting to doubt my common sense when everyone keep saying otherwise.
I guess George Orwell was right after all. Add sheer presure and you end up believing contradictory bullshit.
http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Doublethink

"If the gender of a character is irrelevant to their actual personality, it's testimony to the artist having a broad experience in life and meeting a wider variety of people. "

Or maybe he doesnt want to take chances. Take for example Jacob from Mass Effect 2. The audience doesnt like him because he is too generic, problably because the writers didnt want to push any racial issue ragarding his skin (even in a space opera). For that, they end up making a "meh" character.

Or maybe the writer is a total sociopath and doesnt go out often. A nihilistic asshole that sees every other being as pathethic and useless wastes, regardless of their futile choices in life. So he writes good characters regardless if they are humans or fucking Nodens, Cthylla and Nyarlathotep.

But lets not talk about me anymore.

You say that there ISNT a standard for women and YET there are people like Anita saying otherwise. Unfortunatelly she isnt willing to tell us what is it, so may as well ask you what could possibly be standard other than "balancing out the numbers by having female protagonist"? even if that is what happens you know that it will not be enough. Lets not forget that gamers cant do shit unless they speak with their wallet, and they will deny money to the developers if the game sucks, not because there is or isnt a female lead or women in proper clothing.

I dont see a gamer sacrificing the oportunity of playing a good game/story JUST because there is female that isn't properly represented (unless it affects the plot integrity or meaning)

Then there is the developers.....who are controlled by the producers, and if you dont convince them with numbers, then they wont care at all.

Zachary Amaranth:

DioWallachia:
she is just calling sexist to anything she finds

Except she isn't, but it seems nobody is concerned with letting reality get in the way of a good rant.

(including ICO)

Possibly because it was.

Post Number 932:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/9.386459-Sarkeesian-calls-out-ico-on-sexism?page=27#15557393

There is an entire section dedicated to ilustrate (in my opinion) the sheer number of reasons of why ICO isnt sexist. As expected, you didnt read it and its a shame because i wasted time watching that Lets Play on a game i dont give 2 fucks about.

Hell, if brevity is the soul if wit, then i can demostrate without that wall of text and a single image, that the game doesnt care about the gender you are because that ISNT what the story is about.

Gethsemani:

Please just look at my first post. I have never suggested that I don't want gender to not make a difference, I even go on to reference Buffy as a character that manages to maintain an air of badassery while being distinctly female gendered and not "woman that hits stuff". That's also why I point out that "dual-gendered protagonist" (ie. Cmd. Shephard) can not exist in games with strong, personal narratives, because in those games you need a well-defined protagonist.

Shepard......doesnt have a character, acording to certain someone. Hell, even in ME2 where he/she DIED and could have a personal moment reflecting its resurrection, went nowhere.

There is no character there. Just an avatar to follow the plot.

It is also why I think Chell is kind of a bad example of a good female protagonist, because her gender (or lack thereof, apart from the fatty jokes in Portal 2 it never makes any real difference) is completely inconsequential and is more like an informed ability you get by looking at yourself through portals.

I suppose that Dr. Freeman also could be considered genderless since the only moment where your gender is relevant is for when Alyx hits on you and when you are reminded to "repopulate" the Earth. I wonder what do female gamers feel about Freeman.

So yes, I do agree with you that I think gender has to have meaning. I am not saying every game has to make it super important and contain a fully researched and sourced discussion about gender theory, but it should at least be reflected in how your character is perceived by the rest of the cast.

Indeed. Only important if the plot brings it up and is good enough to allow other sub plots to exist and prosper properly. So we can reflect how that society/whatever sees gender.

EDIT: Also, thank you everyone who responded to my "accusations" against Chell. I am not necessarily saying I am making a complete reversal here and agreeing with you, but I'll definitely consider your points about her before discussing her more.

Dont care about Portal, my favorite insane AI was always AM from "I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream". Cant play most of the games i discuss here (have to use Youtube) and the ones i played no one remembers them or are too attached to other games to give a fuck.

BreakfastMan:

DioWallachia:

Walter Byers:

And you don't see this as a problem? It's a big reason why Tropes vs. Women even exists.

Rly? because so far, she hasnt even TELL US what a "good" female character constitutes. Let alone how the theme of motherhood can be used without going sexist (like Other M)

*cough, cough* Aliens *cough, cough* good example of how the theme of motherhood can work and not be sexist in an action sci-fi context *cough, cough*

....

That is it?

This is one of the things that are so simple that you cant believe that is the correct answer. Also cant believe why we didnt see that more often, then again people was too weirded out with Alien Resurrection and the alien-baby-thingy.

But here is the thing..........that doesnt seem exclusive to a woman. Lets pretend that Ripley is a man now and does exactly the same in the movie, what would change? because, again, if the thing that is HOLDING BACK the writers in making proper women is just that......and that is just so dammed simple that even a man can do it (that sounded sexist) then what was so special about motherhood again?

Maybe when writers see Motherhood they see the pregnancy state (only women understand what is having a baby inside) more than the aftermat (where both genders can take care of the newborn)

DioWallachia:

BreakfastMan:

DioWallachia:

Rly? because so far, she hasnt even TELL US what a "good" female character constitutes. Let alone how the theme of motherhood can be used without going sexist (like Other M)

*cough, cough* Aliens *cough, cough* good example of how the theme of motherhood can work and not be sexist in an action sci-fi context *cough, cough*

....

That is it?

This is one of the things that are so simple that you cant believe that is the correct answer. Also cant believe why we didnt see that more often, then again people was too weirded out with Alien Resurrection and the alien-baby-thingy.

But here is the thing..........that doesnt seem exclusive to a woman. Lets pretend that Ripley is a man now and does exactly the same in the movie, what would change? because, again, if the thing that is HOLDING BACK the writers in making proper women is just that......and that is just so dammed simple that even a man can do it (that sounded sexist) then what was so special about motherhood again?

The same thing that is special about fatherhood, maybe? Feeling this love for a child and wanting to take care of it? I mean, that seems pretty special to me. :P

DioWallachia:

KrystelCandy:

Indeed.

Empowering.

As for 'power implications' not being attractive well... there's an entire market that revolves around that kind of thing. You might have heard about it, if not, someone else can inform you I'm sure.

Nearly everything Bayonetta does is eye candy, her entire voice and the lines she says is filled heavily with innuendo and breathyness.

The only thing empowering about Bayonetta is she's female and can fight.

Here is a video that may help (not really) to understand Bayonneta. Courtesy of Movie Bob:

I started face palming by the two minute mark and it just kept going and going and going... furthering my dislike of Moviebob.

Ironically the characters figure meant absolutely nothing to me regarding feminism, it's always the personality/actions/outfit of the character, and Bayonetta's embraces most of the worst things possible for me personally, I also like how he hardly says anything about her personality throughout preeeetyy much the entire video. He does however focus a hilarious amount on the physical aspects of all the characters, and wow... his analysis is just so... awkward. He's focusing highly on technicalities trying to justify the character, "she's doing the candy a favor!" as she makes sexual motions as she sucks on the lollipop as somehow evidence to... well I don't even know. It's somehow not traditionally sexual because the candy is smaller, yet sexually empowering her because the candy is small. Uh, kay.

He focuses alot on how powerfully sexually she is... like really alot. Did I mention alot? It's an entire review dedicated to how sexy she is due to her physical attributes and movements.

The only thing I half agree with is the casual way she carries her guns, which barely qualifies because she uses her guns in exaggeratedly sexual poses as well.

A sexy character... created by a sexist designer who was showing how he thinks all women should act. How powerfully SEXUAL she is he regards as a step up for women, well of course considering that's exactly what she was designed for.

Powerful does not equal empowering.

Sexy does not equal sexist.

Bayonetta is eye candy, and that's fine, men and women can appreciate that, but she's definitely not empowering and there's no need to pretend she is.

It's also funny how he regards any act that isn't sexual (Chun Li's somewhat bouncy victory pose) as somehow invalidating the character as empowering for women while reducing her power in the eyes of men. Which is doubly ironic since however Chun Li acts, it's doubtful mister Fonzy could do anything to her, or say those things to her face without getting the bejeesus kicked out of him. Then Cammie with her colder personality is also... yeah this rant has gone on long enough.

Suffice to say that video didn't do anything.

I don't get the "women want to play too" argument. Aren't women already playing? Aren't they already like 40some% of the gaming population? How does this happen when games according to you are mostly incapable of providing the power fantasy they seek?

I think a lot of women are fine with this supposedly male-centric power fantasy, cause women are people and people enjoy doing bad-ass and cool things, destroying things, being loved by the side-characters and so on. The fact that the protagonist is male doesn't mean that the gratification itself is gender-locked. Women don't get precluded from feeling bad-ass when they blow up a building just because the character is male, they still are the player, they still did do the act, they still do feel the joy and fun and whatever else that stems from it.

Dreiko:
I don't get the "women want to play too" argument. Aren't women already playing? Aren't they already like 40some% of the gaming population? How does this happen when games according to you are mostly incapable of providing the power fantasy they seek?

I think a lot of women are fine with this supposedly male-centric power fantasy, cause women are people and people enjoy doing bad-ass and cool things, destroying things, being loved by the side-characters and so on. The fact that the protagonist is male doesn't mean that the gratification itself is gender-locked. Women don't get precluded from feeling bad-ass when they blow up a building just because the character is male, they still are the player, they still did do the act, they still do feel the joy and fun and whatever else that stems from it.

I'm fine with it, but if given the choice I'd rather play a woman doing most of those bad ass things without the seeming need for developers to decide I only deserve 1/3 as much clothing for being female, or need to have needless amounts of emotional baggage attached to my badassery, while still you know... being feminine.

And part of the problem is people equate those two things with being "feminine".

The Xenosaga-games are quite rare in that they have a female lead (Shion) that is not sexualized at all (atleast as far as I can remember, it has been a few years since I played the games), but is a strong smart scientist.

But then again, just like with male protagonists, what characters will be liked is very individual. Some guys may love playing as over-the-top Kratos while others prefer androgynic Cloud, and in the same way some girls might love the over-the-top Bayonetta while others prefer the more subdued intellectual Shion.

As for Bayonetta, even I as a guy felt bad and couldn't play more than an hour or so. I would say it is incredibly sexualized as a sort of ultimate fantasy for (some) guys.

vhailorx:

Basically rather than lumping ME in with other games that had female protagonists but were 'bad for unrelated reasons' the article should/could have emphasized just how few games there are like ME that have basically done exactly what shamus is calling out: had a female lead that wasn't an object of titillation for male players. I don't think it's coincidence that ME is the only 1st person game of the 5 he explicitly calls out in the article (ME, Wet, VA, Bayonetta and Lollipop Chainsaw).

I simply must disagree with this, I think "official" femshep was constructed in a way that was certainly made to be attractive to men. Not only did they have that choose-femshep-thingy which was kind of bad, but what really bothered me was that the official femshep looks like an 18 year old girl. I have a hard time believing that the living legend that is Shephard is anywhere below 35, male-shep certainly doesn't look as young as femshep does.

BreakfastMan:

DioWallachia:

BreakfastMan:

*cough, cough* Aliens *cough, cough* good example of how the theme of motherhood can work and not be sexist in an action sci-fi context *cough, cough*

....

That is it?

This is one of the things that are so simple that you cant believe that is the correct answer. Also cant believe why we didnt see that more often, then again people was too weirded out with Alien Resurrection and the alien-baby-thingy.

But here is the thing..........that doesnt seem exclusive to a woman. Lets pretend that Ripley is a man now and does exactly the same in the movie, what would change? because, again, if the thing that is HOLDING BACK the writers in making proper women is just that......and that is just so dammed simple that even a man can do it (that sounded sexist) then what was so special about motherhood again?

The same thing that is special about fatherhood, maybe? Feeling this love for a child and wanting to take care of it? I mean, that seems pretty special to me. :P

Yeah, that is my point. If after all this time is just the same as fatherhood then WHY is the excuse of "i cant write women because motherhood is beyond me" still alive? that is why i concluded that maybe is the pregnancy stage where people think mostly as "motherhood". That and the issue of abortion or destroying a life that is not technically sentient.

DioWallachia:

BreakfastMan:

DioWallachia:

....

That is it?

This is one of the things that are so simple that you cant believe that is the correct answer. Also cant believe why we didnt see that more often, then again people was too weirded out with Alien Resurrection and the alien-baby-thingy.

But here is the thing..........that doesnt seem exclusive to a woman. Lets pretend that Ripley is a man now and does exactly the same in the movie, what would change? because, again, if the thing that is HOLDING BACK the writers in making proper women is just that......and that is just so dammed simple that even a man can do it (that sounded sexist) then what was so special about motherhood again?

The same thing that is special about fatherhood, maybe? Feeling this love for a child and wanting to take care of it? I mean, that seems pretty special to me. :P

Yeah, that is my point. If after all this time is just the same as fatherhood then WHY is the excuse of "i cant write women because motherhood is beyond me" still alive? that is why i concluded that maybe is the pregnancy stage where people think mostly as "motherhood". That and the issue of abortion or destroying a life that is not technically sentient.

Well, A: I have never heard that excuse before now, and B: people can be really stupid, you expect writers to be any different?

Kekkonen1:
The Xenosaga-games are quite unique in that they have a female lead (Shion) that is not sexualized at all, but is a strong smart scientist.

But then again, just like with male protagonists, what characters will be liked is very individual. Some guys may love playing as over-the-top Kratos while others prefer androgynic Cloud, and in the same way some girls might love the over-the-top Bayonetta while others prefer the more subdued intellectual Shion.

vhailorx:

Basically rather than lumping ME in with other games that had female protagonists but were 'bad for unrelated reasons' the article should/could have emphasized just how few games there are like ME that have basically done exactly what shamus is calling out: had a female lead that wasn't an object of titillation for male players. I don't think it's coincidence that ME is the only 1st person game of the 5 he explicitly calls out in the article (ME, Wet, VA, Bayonetta and Lollipop Chainsaw).

I simply must disagree with this, I think "official" femshep was constructed in a way that was certainly made to be attractive to men. Not only did they have that choose-femshep-thingy which was kind of bad, but what really bothered me was that the official femshep looks like an 18 year old girl. I have a hard time believing that the living legend that is Shephard is anywhere below 35, male-shep certainly doesn't look as young as femshep does.

Let's be honest when you get complaints or demands from consumers to craft something in the image they demand or to fulfill said demand. Often companies have to really not only bend over backwards and invest a lot of money into research but also spend more time developing said product that would satisfy said consumers complaining.

The flaw here is that honestly no matter what the company does or how much they actually invest financially there won't be a blank slate to work with and false expectations are already set. Thus you get a result where you will still get consumers complaining about the product.

Honestly the choice of femshep was certainly a popularity contest but note that EA did need some mascot and what better way than to actually let people decide. However, also note that the "official" femshep shouldn't be a point of contention because you as a player still get all the creative choice of what YOUR character shepard should be. From gender to hair color they invested the time and resources to make it as flexible as they can within reason of development to fulfill a demand that honestly they really didn't need to make because while Bioware certainly does open ended narratives you still want some creative control because enabling the control of gender to the player forces more choices and thus more writing where you can no longer have the writer to have control on certain character interactions to set the mood.

But honestly there are games that actually have female protagonists that just permeate our video game industry and they aren't failing women. The real problem I see is that this is a mountain out of a molehill issue because if we really do want video games to be treated as art then developers need to have the creative freedom to create the work they want to create without outside pressure or demands to change the game to their personal preferences or moral authority.

It is all too easy and lazy to just point at all the barbie games and fashion games(remember nintendo's E3 2010 where they had the fashion game for the DS?) and say failing when there will be people who actually want those games. The imagine series as well are enjoyed. If you really wanna talk games with a narrative games have only become more expansive but if you really wanna look back then there are a lot of games that actually without any worry of that monster of "sexuality" that somehow harms all women by existing.

Final Fantasy 6- A narrative that was powerful because not only was the thrust of the story a duet(Terra and Locke), but also a story that wasn't afraid to put the responsibility of action upon the shoulders of a woman (Celes).

Wild Arms 3- While I haven't played it despite being in my collection(back log problems) the games main character is Virginia Maxwell searching for her father. It is a solid RPG that I spend HOURS watching my cousin play through.

As mention the Xenosaga series also have Shion which I will say is a shame they never finished it the way they wanted it to really be. But also in the end you have to really consider that the games we play will really start to fail when we try and actually pull the bullshit of title 9 of trying to make everything gender accessible. Trying to make games to the standards of the consumers complaining instead of respecting the decisions of the actual developers creates a creative stigma. It stops being about telling a story but instead making everything gender neutral. When you go to a library and check out some books they are going to have narratives that are directed towards women yet the main character is a man. The reverse is also true but the connection is that the entire design process came from the writer, not his fans.

KrystelCandy:

Dreiko:
I don't get the "women want to play too" argument. Aren't women already playing? Aren't they already like 40some% of the gaming population? How does this happen when games according to you are mostly incapable of providing the power fantasy they seek?

I think a lot of women are fine with this supposedly male-centric power fantasy, cause women are people and people enjoy doing bad-ass and cool things, destroying things, being loved by the side-characters and so on. The fact that the protagonist is male doesn't mean that the gratification itself is gender-locked. Women don't get precluded from feeling bad-ass when they blow up a building just because the character is male, they still are the player, they still did do the act, they still do feel the joy and fun and whatever else that stems from it.

I'm fine with it, but if given the choice I'd rather play a woman doing most of those bad ass things without the seeming need for developers to decide I only deserve 1/3 as much clothing for being female, or need to have needless amounts of emotional baggage attached to my badassery, while still you know... being feminine.

And part of the problem is people equate those two things with being "feminine".

May i suggest that you play "IJI"? the delicious human suffering and emotions have a context here since she may be just one of the few human being alive in that game. That is not a spoiler, that happens at the beginning of the game, the bad guys wins before we even start.

Since the discussion isnt going nowhere, i may as well press the reset button ask the simple question to have a fundation to start with: What does it mean to be feminine?

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