A criticism that we gaming feminists often get to hear is that we’re out “looking for it”. We’re going out of our way to find instances of sexism, objectification, stereotypical treatment of women, harassment etc. I can only speak for myself when I, in the words of Lex Luthor in Superman Returns, say
Okay, so maybe that’s a bit strong right? That image? Maybe I’m coming across as… oh, I don’t know? An extremist? A feminazi? Whoops. Yes. That’s another thing. Don’t ever, ever get angry. Don’t say ANYTHING that might come across as aggressive, and please, be “objective”. Make sure whatever story you are telling, never forget about the edge cases, the exceptions, the obscure little french game that was all about male bashing etc. If you do forget, your argument falls. Completely. There’s no value to it at all. Yes. I’m being glib. I’m allowed to be, after 14 years of being careful, nuanced and soft spoken (text wise).
The point I want to make here is, however, that for my part, I hardly have to look. It’s enough to read Kotaku or any other gaming blog or news outlet to find a stream of sexism, sexual objectification, harassment… and this is on an almost daily basis. Not to mention the subtle and not so subtle hints on twitter, facebook etc that, you know, feminism has gone to far! We’re trying to oppress the men now. Apparently. I am tempted to once again post Lex Luthor. But no.
There is a huge movement within the gaming culture to make the games more accessible to other than the standard audience. Personally I think this is a good thing. But as long as there are new posts on Fat, Ugly or Slutty, or Not in the Kitchen Anymore, I think it’s fair to say that feminism is needed within gaming culture and the games industry. As long as Miranda Lawson, Quiet and a host of other women are displayed as butts, it’s not really worth discussing if the movement is needed or not. (Hint: we need it.)
(For those of you who don’t know, Hideo Kojima decided to make Quiet both mute and “erotic”, so that women would cosplay her. Apparently, Quiet is also a character who has a reason to dress like she does. I’m not sure WHAT reason I’d believe for it to be justified that she wears a miniscule bikini bra that barely covers her nipples and hose underneath her underwear. Maybe she’s superman?)
(Miranda Lawson is known for two things. Being a cold hearted Cerberus operative and having her butt on display during various moments of Mass Effect 2 & 3 gameplay. Butt scenes that, may I ass… sorry add, bring nothing but gawker value to the game.)
As long as men are quiet, focused, killing machines, halfway psychotics with a need to solve everything with violence, I’ll continue to think that the image of manliness and what it means to be a man in games has issues as well. And honestly, as long as trash talk, let alone sexist trash talk, is the main way of communicating online, where’s the harm in trying to change that? Trash talk is a part of how a man is supposed to behave online, despite the protestations that only 14-year old Brits talk trash.
Back to my original point. I’m not actively looking for sexism in games or in gaming culture. I’m tired of being accused of looking for problems. I see a lot of games in my work and when I write reviews. If I wanted to, I could take almost every game, including the one’s I love most dear, to the cleaners and just point out every flaw, every inconsistency, every costume that’s too tight or unrealistic. But that would completely ruin games for me, wouldn’t it? And despite my angry rants here at discordia, I love games. I love to play. I play games ALL the time. I play on the weekends, I play on the tube going to work, I play during lunch, I play even when I should be writing more rants on discordia. I love games.
I just want them to love me back.
2014-02-07 at 10:24
2014-02-08 at 13:25
When I saw the second picture I thought to myself, wouldn’t it be awesome if it belonged to a man.
Anyway, another great post Åsa. I’d like to point out the formerly Vita-exclusive title Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation HD that was re-released with updated graphics, for PS3 in January this year, in case you missed it. It’s not even full price for a full game. I haven’t gotten it yet, but I will. Check it out.
As of today I can count games containing strong female, non-sexualized leads that aren’t rape victims on one hand.
Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation
“That old game which I can’t recall the name of at the moment, with the girl and the anthropomorphic pig”
It’s amazing that people can’t understand how this is way too far apart, and exceptions to the rule.
2014-02-08 at 13:53
Well, there’s also Mass Effect and the Dragon Age series, but those are RPGs.
2014-02-08 at 14:26
True. I generally disregard Mass Effect, because of all the gratituous ass shots. That doesn’t make femshep any less a good example though. By the way, Bioware has a small group which’s purpose is to examine the games they produce for sexism among other non-inclusive things. That’s a pretty heartening thing and one can only hope more gaming companies follow suit. Hopefully the good power of the Internet and gaming can also nullify the bullshit that marketing firms push about “this and that” not selling, and remove their power over what we get to see and don’t. If you haven’t already, see the various reviews of the “The last of us” vs “Bioshock: Infinite” package cover debacle, and also Remember Me, the latter case in which marketing firms literally said “You can’t make a game with a female protagonist. It won’t sell” and the developers said “Well, screw you. We’re doing it anyway”. The former example about the package covers is similar in nature.
2014-02-12 at 00:23
Inter-Relay Text Chat: [Lair of the Shadow Broker Bonus Mission Completed, Miranda Lawson’s Dossier opened, Personal Correspondence opened] To: LawBringerSR2 From: PerfectMan01
PerfectMan01: 21:09 PM: Hey there. New to this iPartner stuff?
Miranda Lawson: 21:09 LB: Yes.
PerfectMan01: 21:10 PM: Well, maybe tell me about yourself. What sort of work you do?
Miranda Lawson: 21:10 LB: I can’t talk about that.
PerfectMan01: 21.10 PM: Like some kind of secret government spy stuff? Sounds dangerous! Heh.
Miranda Lawson: 21:10 LB: Yes.
PerfectMan01: 21:12 PM: OK how about a little about you? What do you do for fun?
Miranda Lawson: 21:12 LB: Look, I don’t really care about getting to know you. Upload your medical exam results.
PerfectMan01: 21:14 PM: Sure.
Miranda Lawson: 21:20 LB: You had a mild case of Shintonial Abraxas 4 years ago.
PerfectMan01: 21:20 PM: Yes, but the doctors have
Miranda Lawson: 21:20 LB:
Inter-Relay Text Chat: Thank you for connecting to iPartner Connections!