Gender in video games

Women in video games are most commonly portrayed to entice male gamers.  To appease the male gamers, women are either sexualized or adapt masculine traits in the games. In arcade games such as “Mortal Kombat” the female characters are sexualized  with their large breasts and revealing outfits. This trend of sexualizing women is scene in other games such as “Marvel Vs Capcom”, “Tomb Raider” and many more.  Although there are still current examples of women being sexualized in games, over the course of time women’s appearances in some games have changed. Women are not always  sexualized in video games. In both AAA games “Horizon Zero Dawn” and “Assassins creed Syndicate” both female lead characters are not sexualized. One can make the argument that the women characters are visually attractive, but their conservative outfits show a diversion from the previous sexualization of female characters in games.  However, the female characters previously mentioned are still molded to appease the male gamers.  These female characters show masculine characteristics that overpower feminine traits. Just because  video game creators put a woman as the lead role does not mean that they are showing the female gender equal treatment. The creators of the game are just putting a female mask onto a male character.

At a glance, one can see that the treatment of women has progressed in video games since over the course of time. Games such as “clusters revenge” are no longer being produced. However, just because women are no longer the victims of violent acts such as rape in video games today, foes not mean that their roles in games have progressed. Women that do not take on a masculine characteristics are still portrayed as inferiors that need to be rescued, similarly to Princess Peach in Donkey Kong.  Regardless of the gender identity of the main character, the storyline of masculinity rescuing feminine characters is predominate in almost every game. An example of this can be seen in Horizon Zero Dawn. Although the main character is a female, she is raised by a rugged male character that trains her into the masculine character that she is. Her separation from her feminine traits, allows her to be the hero and save the everyone.  Just because there are more female characters does not mean that women are being treated better in video games.

 

Assassins creed Unity

The plot of Assassin’s Creed Unity takes place during the French Revolution. Setting the obvious fallacies asides, this game does a fair job at depicting the common narrative for this historical event. When the player is roaming through the map it is clear that there is an immense amount of poverty and chaos going on within France, which is accurate. However, the game makes it out to be a lot worse than it was. One example of this over dramatization is that there seems to be a public execution going on all day, everyday. Although there were countless public executions during Robespierre’s “Reign of Terror”, the plot has you kill Robespierre very early in the plot. If Robespierre was the murderous leader that the game makes him out to be, then the executions would have not been so frequent after his death. This brings us the next critique of this game. When examining the historiography of the French Revolution, the analysis of Robespierre is debated heavily. Robespierre is responsible for the death of thousands of people, including one of the most famous revolutions Georges Danton, but some historians argue Robespierre is a hero of the French Revolution. His character is portrayed as a power hungry ruler, but some historians believe that his actions fueled purly off of his desire for a successful revolution. This game leaves no room for players to draw their own conclusions about one of the most important people in the French Revolution. Even though there are a lot of fictional aspects to this game, I do believe it can be a tool for teaching history. One reason for this belief comes strictly from one of the game trailers. The trailer talks about why the revolution started, including previous lost wars, a rich upper class and a poor lower class. Prior to enrollment at Cal State Long Beach, I personally had no idea why the French Revolution started or who lead it. The French Revolution is hardly ever mentioned in any high school or middle school curriculum, even though it is arguably one of the most important revolution in modern history. This game shows the player that the revolution was based on struggles that the lower class citizens faced, which is trend for numerous rebellions and revolutions throughout the history of the world. The trailer also mentions key historical events, such as the storming of the Bastille, the Tennis Court Oath and the beheadings of King Louis XVI and Robespierre. At the end of the trailer it mentions another revolution taking place. The creator of this trailer was most likely just trying to end with that line to set up the storyline for the game, but it is similar to the plot for the actual French Revolution. Unlike the American revolution, the French Revolution took more than just breaking away from a monarchical power to achieve their victory. A lot of other things happened during this revolution and some even argue that France did not end their revolution until the fall of Napoleon Bonaparte. Just by showing this trailer to a class a student could learn about this historical event and possibly strike an interest that will motivate them to learn more. Another reason I believe this game can be used as a teaching tool is because it gives the player access to some historical documents. I understand that most players will not read these documents instead of playing the game, but it is important for people to have access to them and be familiar with the terms. This game also did a great job in their map design. The creators of the game put in real life monuments and landmarks within the map. One benefit of the accuracy of the map is being able to compare the beauty of the Palace of Versailles versus the streets. If the player compares the two they can gain a better understanding about the difference in economic stature between the classes and what motivated the Revolution.

Oregon Trail Post

What is the narrative structure of the game and how is it told?

When playing this game the player is in charge of taking the main protagonists and his traveling party across the American west starting in the late 1840’s. During their two-thousand mile journey the players must make decisions to try and get themselves as well as their party members safely across the country. On this voyage the player must face the hardships of the rugged, unpredictable nature in the American West.

What is the primary historical argument for the game? How is the West represented?  

The historical argument presented in this game is that traveling across the American west was extremely dangerous and unpredictable. Those who made the trek to the West coast were subject to life or death situations on almost a day to day basis.  Every decision the player makes has repercussions. Even if the player makes every correct decisions, there are certain situations that one cannot predict. Whether it is a member of your party becoming ill, getting bitten by a snake, or getting lost, there are certain situations that people cannot plan for.

 

How does the game treat women and people of color? What role do the play in game and how do they function within the narrative presented in the game (are they in other words active historical agents or passive)?

In my personal experiences playing this game I have noticed that women do not play any role in the travel and almost make it more difficult. They are essentially just one other mouth to feed and person to take care of.  I am unsure if it has just been a coincidence or not, but every time I have played this game a woman has been the first person to pass away. Men pass away also, but I noticed that women tend to die a little easier. One male party member endured three separate snake bite, a broken arm and a form of sickness before he died. Whereas the women would sometimes die from a cold. Even if it is just a coincidence, just by the imagery alone one can see that women are depicted as nothing more than a caretaker. They look timid and somewhat hopeless. The only colored people I saw in the game were Native Americans. Their role was to trade with the traveling party and occasionally help the party find more food. The imagery used for Native Americans suggested that they were sad inferior people. In addition to imagery, Native Americans never had anything to trade besides food. Both the roles of women and Native Americans can be used as active historical agents. When one examines how women are depicted in the game one can conclude how women were treated and viewed as men’s inferiors during the 19th century. The role Native Americans play not only shows the player how white Americans viewed the Native Americans, but it also changes the common narrative that there was constant conflict between the two races. Although there was a lot of conflict between them, the Native Americans were helpful at times and attempted to live in the American society by trading goods for currency.

Who do you read as the primary protagonist in the story? Is there a way to subvert the historical agency of the main protagonist and change the narrative? How does that effect the game and the way that the historical story is presented?

The main protagonist of the game is a middle aged white American man. A player can name the leader of the party anything they would like, but it does not change the narrative of the game. Not being able to change the narrative of the game does not effect the actual  game play. However, not being able to make that change does keep the game’s narrative historically accurate. Due to the inequalities that women and colored people faced during the time this game took place, it is highly unlikely that either group would be able to afford the necessary equipment to make such a rigorous journey.

Do the graphics make a difference or help to reinforce the narrative of the story? If you played the text based version (https://classicreload.com/Oregon-trail.html) what can you offer about how graphics change both the narrative function and representations in the game.

Yes, the graphics of the game reinforce the story. The graphics in the game make it possible for the player to feel

What was the overall effectiveness of the game from a history education stand point?

This game is very effective from a history education stand point.  Some times it is difficult to fully understand and grasp how hard making the voyage west was during the 19th century. This game allows the player to experience difficulties that migrants had to endure. One difficulty that the game does a great job showing is the importance of managing your travels according to the changing seasons. If the player is not cautious about when they leave or the pace they keep, the party can be caught in the middle of winter with no food for their oxen to eat and potentially lose everything. The game also does a fine job depicting America geographically. Showing rivers, mountain rages, and deserts gives the player an idea of where they are located in America. In addition to the landscape features, the game also uses actual forts that were built across the American west. The game’s use of geographical accuracies,  gender roles, and unforeseeable problems, makes it an effective tool historical education.