So I was talking with Marc the other day, and that absolutely stupid blowout over Mass Effect that a bunch of reporters on (you guessed it) Fox News had a couple of years back came up. In all fairness, when the dust settled Fox realized they had spoken out of turn and apologized for the whole debacle, but still, what gives? Halle Berry wins an Oscar for Monster’s Ball which has one of the most explicit sex-scenes in it this side of 9 1/2 Weeks, yet a fairly tame depiction of sex in a game gets people all wound up. That they didn’t know it was pretty much PG-13 stuff really doesn’t matter. Assumptions were made, because it’s a video game. At that point I think we grumbled about it a little more, then I wandered into the kitchen and lost a game of Fire Team to J-Lu.
Still, I saw something a few days later while that was still in the back of my head that got the wheels turning. This video referenced and linked to in the following article is probably Not Entirely Safe For Work, so that means that you probably shouldn’t watch it in class, either. This means you. Nevertheless, the article is by a Kotaku forum poster who goes by the moniker LordFlash and he pretty much hits the nail on the head. Long story short, are you effing serious??
I see something like this and I think to myself, it’s no wonder everyone thinks that the entire game industry, from the developers all the way down to the fans, are a bunch of chemically imbalanced misogynistic sadists. I have no problem with a strong, attractive female protagonist. “Strong” and “Attractive” adjectives that could very easily be applied to most of the male protagonists in our industry as well. Still, the men, no matter how little clothing they’re wearing, never come off as animate sex dolls.
I don’t think there’s a checklist that you can tick off that will determine whether or not this or that particular game girl is or isn’t some screwed up jerkwad’s self-involved fantasy, but I think much of it comes down to how far you’re going out of your way to make her look sexy. Does a hot girl on a spec-ops team drop into a combat zone in a low cut t-shirt that happens to be wet? Why is Diablo 3’s female demon hunter running around in spike heels?
We’re in a pretty young industry. The problem with new things is that they’re easy to demonize because people don’t understand them. We’re going to need to be really careful with how we treat the women we put in our games, because like it or not, we get associated with every depiction of every female in every video game ever.