Thursday, June 13, 2013

Gaming Hera - Why Female Protagonists Are Needed

Sad that it can be a challenge to find a
picture of a female game character that isn't "sexified."

When I read some of the comments from the FeministFrequency twitter about the Microsoft conference not showcasing games with primary female protagonists (there are a few on the floor this year, but Microsoft didn’t feel it was necessary to actually have them at their main press conference), it really makes me wonder about the sanity of humanity. We really haven’t evolved over the last 5 million years have we? Many hold the ape-like mind-set and feel the need to bash and maim until they regain control and have their way.

The responses left for Anita are appalling. I cannot believe that any human being would seriously react in such a manner as to threaten physical harm…over video games.  

Guys. They. Are. Video. Games.

I realize that it’s a lifestyle to some, but holy sh*t. They are games. GAMES. I can only imagine how men will react when a female president is finally elected in the U.S.

But it does bring a point home that the issue of sexism within the industry and amongst gamers is still a very big deal and it’s not going away.

The article originally written for Slate.com was trying to go off the premise of ‘why more video game women are needed as protagonists’ and that didn’t really happen. Like most of these articles, they typically fall off into how bad the sexism is in gaming. The comment from the Killer Instinct demo has already made it’s rounds on the internet (and seriously people...more comments regarding “teaching that woman a lesson”? What are we, animals? No actually that’s being kind. Animals would never stoop so low to be so abusive to another female. Most species on this planet actually revere females, just not humans). However you wish to take the comment isn’t the point. It’s the fact that it was said in a demeaning manner directly towards a woman. The entire segment felt scripted that the woman wasn’t able to play the game well and had to be dominated by her male counterpart.

Since the Slate article doesn’t really address reasons why we need more female protagonists in video games, I’m going to start listing a few. I still feel that we are a way off before we see the changes needed to improve the community, but this is a start.

How having More Female Lead Protagonists Will Help the Industry:

Feminist and Feminism will no longer be a dirty word. Somewhere between the 1960’s and the 1980’s feminism became associated with all things extreme when it comes to fighting for women’s rights. Here’s the fact: Most feminists are not in the super crazy category. Most, and by most I mean 95% of us, just want equality. Equal pay for equal work. The right to the same jobs as a man and the same healthcare, and the same laws and rules that are afforded to men but not women. That’s what feminist and feminism is about: equality. It is not about women wanting to take over the world and killing all men. We want to work together and become cohesive. Gaming could help turn that around by showcasing women in more positive roles. It’s a subconscious effort but It would help promote the strength of women over time.

Change the attitudes of those working in the industry. EvenEA has stated that they are making games that will sell. And right now those are products geared towards the 18-24 male crowd, in turn glorifying the idea of sexism. By allowing more women to take the role of a lead character and be featured as a real human (not oversized head, boobs, butt, and skimpy clothing) we’ll see the industry change from the inside out for the better.

Women and girls will feel more empowered to game, interact, and be a part of the industry. One look at Fat, Ugly, or Slutty and you’ll quickly see that anything not male will typically be dismissed and harassed the moment you try to game online. I realize this doesn’t happen to everyone, but for a lot of women and girls, this is a daily occurrence to where you have to shut off your mic, change your user name, and your avatar to not look female: or just not play online at all. By introducing more strong, adept female characters into the mix, we’ll see out girls becoming more confident and willing to tackle the issue head on. And a few more in the business couldn’t hurt either.

Create better stories. Okay I’m not the first to say that a lot of the content out there now is copy/paste, rinse/repeat, and sequels galore. New games and ideas are difficult to find. Female characters could be a great way to start a new movement towards unique, innovative gaming. Beyond Good and Evil and Mirror’s Edge are fantastic examples of games that went into whole new directions because of their female leads. I’d love to have more unique games out there.

These are just a few points out of many. More action is needed.

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