The eighth chapter of Tom Bissell’s Extra Lives reminded me that video games have a remarkable potential for ruthlessness. Or, rather, it reminded me what video games can force (or allow) the player to do. Of course this is something people have written about before: from the very genesis (no pun intended) of video games, moral guardians have questioned the violent nature of “the collision and disappearance of two blocky abstractions (Bissell, page 130).” This has evolved into heated arguments over the ethics of crime-related series such as Grand Theft Auto and Saints Row, or violent games such as Mortal Kombat, Gears of War, or Call of Duty.… Read the rest
It’s no secret that the Grand Theft Auto series is aimed at a male demographic. All of the protagonists correspond to the grizzled, hyper-masculine image of a hardened criminal, and female prostitutes have been a staple of the game since the beginning. Women may be present as side characters, but even as side characters they generally get less of the spotlight. From what little I know of games pertaining to the criminal underworld, the lack of a positive (or influential) influence isn’t abnormal.
But why isn’t it abnormal? Cultural presumptions, surely. Films like Scarface, The Godfather, and Goodfellas, the basis for these kinds of games, are male-centric.… Read the rest