Gender in Games

The market for video games is heavily geared toward men seeing how the most popular games are centered around violence. As a result, women end up being pushed to the sidelines and are often oversexualized. It is also a lot easier to create and play as male characters as opposed to female ones. For example, Street Fighter, compared to the amount of male characters to choose from there are very few female characters to choose. Even amongst the female characters, their breasts tend to be oversized or they are wearing extra revealing clothes which is something that is common across almost the entire gaming industry. Even in AAA title games, women tend to be backburner NPCS and are portrayed in their conventional societal roles as housemakers, wives, damsels in distress, etc. Even in the game Unmanned, you play through the eyes of a army pilot that’s living through everyday life, desensitized to the world around you but when a female character is introduced her sole purpose was to give the player an opportunity to have an affair.

For men things are a lot different. The action in most games such as Assassin’s Creed or Call of Duty reinforce the ideas that masculinity is defined by the concept of power. “Manliness” is measured by how many kills you get and the mechanics of these games support that strongly, that the role of men is to be all muscle and attack. This is supported by the character design of most males in AAA titles. Take Geralt from The Witcher as an example, his facial features set across the message that to be cool and to be manly you have to have big muscles, athletic, and optional scars.

In the cases where females are remotely unconventional and are actually capable, the world around them see them as incompetent, trying to achieve something that is not practical for a female. Women are also used as reward in these games for completing missions, like in The Witcher 2, which imply that the sole purpose of women is to be a source of pleasure for men.

Nowadays, things are better for women and their portrayal in games. Sure they’re still being oversexualized but there are some newer female protagonists that defy the old image of women in games. Take Ellie from The Last of Us as an example. A 14-year old girl who is brave, not oversexualized for good reason, resourceful, and is physically capable on her own without needing to be saved by a male. However, in most fighting games such as Street Fighter, Dragon Ball Fighter Z, and Super Smash Bros, female characters are and will likely continue to be less desired because their combos and skill sets are less effective than male characters in competition. This implies that usefulness of female characters will be another issue to deal with in this entire process. With time, it is potentially possible for women to be portrayed in better light without being sexualized or objectified in games.

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