Okay so I know the class is going to talk about the #1reasonwhy movement tomorrow and that much of what I have to say may very well be a part of planned discussion tomorrow. Or maybe this post will kickstart more conversation. I am %1000 aware of the fact that I am erasing tons of people who have been historically underrepresented or badly represented in videogames but I only have so much space and frankly I could write a dissertation on this subject. Anyway, on to the meat of it!
Women with a very few acceptions have been poorly represented in mainstream videogames. As a female gamer, I often run into a series of issues when purchasing games. First, I cannot find games with playable female characters, the second is that when there are female characters they are either a doll for the male hero to save, a plot device or eye candy. Or any combination of the three.
The heart of the matter comes down to loads issues of which I will only discuss one. That is, the misogyny that is deeply embedded into mainstream videogames. Within this core problem, there are many sub-problems which also need to be fixed. These include sexual harassment during online game play, a lack of realistic female armor, and the overarching attitude that women exist in videogames only for male entertainment.
I have yet to meet anyone who is okay with being sexually harassed and threatened during online gameplay which makes up the core of what makes games such as WOW and Halo fun. There has to be a serious change in attitudes towards women and their bodily integrity before I would be comfortable saying that we are a respected part of the culture. Rape is not okay even if it is “just joking.” A well documented example of online game harassment can be seen in Anita Sarkeesian’s talk during TEDxWomen 2012. [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GZAxwsg9J9Q[/youtube] Although I don’t agree with everything that she has to say or even how she went about her project, she still did not deserve the sort of harassment which she received from the online gaming community. She is not the only documented case, just the most well known.
Armor is a particular sore spot (get it? sore spot?) particularly for me as an action fantasy gamer. The difference between male and female armor is deeply appalling not just because of the difference in levels of protection, but also because of the total disregard for basic laws of physics and the use of the boob plate armor. Those of you who are not familiar with the term may be surprised to find that plate armor which has boob holders is actually almost as bad as not wearing any at all. Because of the front seem that is required to make such armor, the weakest part of the armor is where it should be strongest and also will crack the woman’s sternum is she falls during combat.
This non-armor has justly earned the title of metallic lingerie by the wikipedia page describing it. There is literally no protection from any harm in armor of this type and one can only assume that the ladies wearing such clothes are not ment to be fighting alongside the men. So what is our woman warrior there for?
That question was rhetorical but it brings up another good point. If women do not want to see only the traditional sexy, scantily clad women, what do we want to see? WHAT WOMEN WANT (IN FEMALE VIDEO GAME PROTAGONISTS) and the Gaymer‘s essay on armor in particular are sources which I found thoughtful and altogether accurate. Further reading on female media representation can be found at Feminist Frequency and other illustrious sites.