GEL’s Headspace on Videogame Women and the Discussion of them.
“Alright lets see what demos they added to XBox Live…hmm…Fuse, eh? What is this, some generic third person shooter? *clicks demo* Oh hey! Wait. One of those characters in the background looks like a woman! TWO of them do actually! Ooh! Are they playable? Please tell me they’re playable *clicks screenshots* …THEY ARE! FUCK YEAH! Lemme clear some space and grab this demo! Who’s making this thing anyway? INSOMNIAC?! Aren’t they Sony’s bitch? Don’t they do Ratchet & Clank and Resistance?! What are THEY doing on XBox 360?! EA?! Curiouser and curiouser…”
This is the thought process that went through my mind this morning as I checked the new uploads to XBox Live. This is how I think and should give you a good idea where I’m coming from.
See, as you’ve already noticed by now, there is a huge debate going on about women in videogames as I already discussed in a previous article. The thing is, half the time I read these articles I feel like they come from a completely different planet from my own! There are no women in videogames?! This is news to me!
As this post is a bit long, allow me to summarize: Do you all want me to write more articles on this subject or just save it for The Big Article? Are all of you sick of hearing about this shit, or is it half the reason you came to my blog in the first place?
In case you couldn’t tell from the above quote, female characters are a selling point to me. If your game lacks female characters, it better have a damn good hook! Customizeable robots? Move support? Ninjas? I like ninjas, does your game have ninjas? What about playable bug monsters? No?! Then what does it have!? Huge movelists? Online co-op? Coffee fortunes? J-Pop? Wait…what game has J-Pop but doesn’t have female characters?! Is it a chase-view rail shooter? Does it involve going really fast and blowing shit up?
No? Just ‘roided up guys with shaved heads hiding behind walls? I think I’ll pass. Thanks.
But if your game has female characters? Shoot then I’ll play even the most bland, generic, and unpolished of games! Shallow? Yup!
You would think this would mean I barely buy any games. However, one look at my monthly “New Releases” posts will tell you otherwise. The game industry is much larger, crazier, and more varied than we give it credit and while recent developments have hurt the amount of variety we see from the industry, it has not completely dried up.
The result is that I have found myself with blinders on, completely oblivious to what those other games are doing as I have no interest in them. I’d feel bad about this but one look at nearly any of these articles reveals that everyone else is doing the same thing! They’re completely oblivious to the games that I like and thus they don’t exist to them! It’s a weird thing to be sure.
My interest in female characters in videogames dates back to my childhood, believe it or not. Why? Well I have an older sister. Whenever my Mom took me and her to a rental store, she’d get an anime and I’d get a game. But if I could find a game with a girl in it, I could convince my sister to rent it and thus get two games that week instead of one! Ha ha! I’m a fucking genius!
As such I became acutely aware of all the game heroines of the 16-bit era and they quickly became an important part of my childhood. El Viento, Valis, and Alisia Dragoon? This was what I grew up on: games most people don’t even think exist!
Of course, my love of female leads is two fold. On one hand I just prefer playing as them. Sexualized or not, they’re always more attractive than men (to me anyway)! But I do enjoy me some heavily sexualized women. I like them a lot. I’ve spent an absolutely absurd amount of time on Rumble Roses XX crafting sexy music videos from intro sequences. I’m one of the only people on the internet who defends the Oneechanbara series of bikini-clad samurai women fighting zombies. I have Gal*Gun on both 360 and PS3. I also really like Queen’s Blade (though the videogames are disappointing).
So this puts me in a really really weird position in this debate. I want more women in videogames! I want more women to play videogames! But I also want another Rumble Roses game.
So here I am scratching my head as to what to do. I can’t stop thinking about this discussion. Heck I’ve got an absolutely massive article I’ve been writing on the subject for months now discussing it from every angle I can! Shoot it’s darn well nearly a book!
But at the same time, I’m sick of it. I know everyone else is sick of it. I’ve actually avoided discussing the topic here and been trying to bottle it all up into one singular article on the subject so that way I can just publish that and be done with it. I don’t want my blog to become an overly political mess like MovieBob’s is.
But at the same time the debate is still going on and I have so much to say it’s starting to leak out. This blog is just focused on the stuff that interests me afterall, and as you can see this is very relevant to my interests.
In some ways I wonder if it is even my place to be discussing this. As one person pointed out, the biggest issue with this discussion is that it’s mostly men talking with other men about what is best for women. However my conclusion on that is just not to try and label anything as “positive” or “negative”. That is mostly a matter of personal opinion and unless someone can magically conjure a definitive list of criteria for “positive” and “negative” female characters, then I’m not even going to try beyond a slight nudge as to what I personally find pretty positive.
One thought that went through my mind though is perhaps a second blog devoted entirely to posting every time a game with a female character in it is released. I’m thinking of calling it “GameBabble’s Progressive Scan” or something like that. Again, no judgement calls. Just a giant list of female characters and discussion of them. If nothing else it would be an interesting project that would help prove a point: that female videogame characters exist.
Because, you see, the way I see it half the problem is in how we discuss female characters in games. You see, every time there’s a hyper sexualized character like the Sorceress from Dragon’s Crown or Ivy from Soul Calibur, we write articles wagging our fingers at them for being “negative”. But every time there’s a “positive” female character, we don’t. We seldom really make note of them, actually. Because “positive” females should be normal, right? There are also no articles about “negative” male characters because…how do you even make a negative male character?!
So when people completely ignore female characters unless they’re negative, it leads to this belief that women are universally negatively portrayed in videogames and the perpetuation of this belief. The more people say it, the more we believe it to be true.
In many ways it is actually disturbing! I remember when the gaming media stood against sensationalism in the news media when they brought up gun violence and tried to ham-fistedly link it to videogames. But now we suddenly turn around and wag our fingers when it comes to sexualized women? In fact, I’m starting to see some gaming media cave and start to question if videogames really do cause violence! Have we honestly been told “videogames are bad” so much that we are starting to believe it?! Or is it that the gaming media’s ever decreasing credibility has caused them to resort to the same sensationalist tactics?
Of course I would be remiss to not mention the one key difference: guilt.
You see, with violence many gamers can safely say that they never killed anyone and never planned to. The only major exception there are the many gamers who are in the army and I don’t need to tell you why that is a non-issue.
But when it comes to female characters in videogames? Well…most of us have rubbed one out to quite a few of them. Some of us even have massive porn collections of said characters or even drawn porn of them ourselves! To say nothing of the many conversations about which character’s ass we’d like to tap. So when someone pops up and says these characters are oversexualized and that we objectify them…we often plead guilty.
The key difference there is fantasy and reality, but that can become a tangled mess when discussing videogames. I’d probably need a but more time to think of how to better word that but the point is I’m pretty damn certain that fantasizing about fictional characters does not make you a bad person.
Trust me, we all do it. Even women. Pretty certain it’s just a part of human nature.
But I’m sorry, I’ve rambled long enough.I just wanted to explain where I come from and what my stake in all of this is. The point is, do you all want me to write more articles on this subject or just save it for The Big Article? Are all of you sick of hearing about this shit, or is it half the reason you came to my blog in the first place?