Gender in Video Games

Through the many decades of the existence of video games, multiple genres have often portrayed women in a way that women should not be represented. Although the majority of gaming audiences are women who play games through their mobile device, the video game industry is considered male dominant and therefore targets the male audience. In most games, women are often considered delicate and extremely feminine, which often leads to becoming the perfect target to represent the role of the damsel and distressed. In other games, women are represented as sex symbols. In games such as Super Mario Bros, Mario constantly saves the princess of the Mushroom Kingdom, Princess Peach. Similarly, in the first Crash Bandicoot series game,Crash’s girlfriend Tawna, is kept as a hostage to lure crash closer to the enemy. In both games, the woman is considered a prize possession rather than contributing to the plot of the storyline. The male roles of these games are characterized as brave heroes in their attempt to rescue the fragile female character. Corresponding to the roles of women in video games, the game developers of the twine games such as Deador Alive Xtreme 3: Fortune Volleyball Game, used female characters playing volleyball to target the male audience by designing the women to wear very little clothing, have small waists, and attractive features. Not only were their features meant to attract the attention of men, but also their body language was very seductive. In twine games such as Depression Quest, although the main character is male and the one who is on an emotional rollercoaster, his girlfriend comes off as persistent when it comes to their relationship. She becomes outcasted by her boyfriend (the main character), just like how women are usually outcasted in a video game narrative. Overall, the common role that women play in games are boy crazy, seductive, delicate, seen as a prized possession, or unimportant.

Although women are sometimes created to become the main protagonist of a game, they are still created to have sex appeal in order to grab the gamers attention. For instance, the video game Tomb Raider, despite Laura Croft’s ability to fight her own battles and become the hero, she wears clothing that embrace her curves. In the cover for the game, she is wearing shorts and a tight top that shows her stomach. Realistically, a woman would not wear such an outfit when fighting battle. In video games, the masculinity in men are exaggerated as well. The male characters are often created to be strong, powerful, intelligent, and with a built feature. In the mythology action-adventure based video game series, God of War, Kratos is a male-dominant character who lacks emotion and seeks vengeance. In the game, his egotistic male dominance led to death of his wife and daughter. In Assassin’s Creed Unity, Arno Dorian also seeks revenge due to the death of his father and adoptive father. Arno Dorian was created to also be strong and skillful during combat. He has the ability to climb walls and jump off building, demonstrating the exaggerated masculine characteristics that are often represented in video games.

Despite the similar role women have played since video games were created, games have become a little more censored than games that were created in the 80’s. Custer’sRevenge was an unpleasant video game released in 1982 and created byMystique for the Atari 2600. The game was based on the American Civil War and shows the general raping an innocent Native-American for points in the game. Custer’sRevenge displays rape, racism, and pornography. Another similar game, Beat‘Em and Eat ‘Em, displayed pornography and was also created by Mystique in1982 for the Atari 2600. In the 80’s and 90’s the majority of men were gamers which is why game developers created games that target men. Today, the majority of women are gamers. Games that are currently being developed consider the gamers to be either male or female. The presence of women always existed in video games but were frequently outcasted in a narrative or hidden by the gaming community. New games such as Mirror’sEdge, Tomb Raider, and The Last of Us are led by a female protagonist which shows that the video game industry has progressed the roles of women. In older games, a female protagonist would not have been considered.

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