Feminism in Games Is a Double-Edged Sword
Grand Theft Auto V

I'm proud of how mature we've become as a community of gamers. We always talk about how we wish video games were taken more seriously in mainstream society. We aspire for our medium to be on the same creative and artistic level as films. However, at the same time, I fear we're so haunted by our immature past, we're willing to sacrifice a developer's creative vision in order to present a more politically correct persona of the video game industry to the public. In this case, I'm talking about the role of feminism in games.It's great that we're becoming more conscious of female roles in games, but there are situations when using this critical eye can be both useful and unnecessary.

Let me start off by saying that “feminism” and “feminist” are not dirty words. They don't represent a group of bra-burning, men-hating, angry women. Both men and women can consider themselves to be feminists because the overall goal is to create awareness and fix certain inequalities and stereotypes. That being said, I believe there are both good and bad examples of the feminist movement in games. One example of a bad implementation deals with GTA V.

Grand Theft Auto V is a great game. I'm sure there are countless people who feel the same way. However, on more than one occasion, I've seen people say "GTA V would be a lot better if it had a female lead character." In some cases, not having a female lead was a criticism of the game. Some figure since there are three playable characters anyway, why not bring a woman into the fray? The answer is simple--it wasn't in the writer's creative vision.

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Dan Houser and his writers set out to make a specific story. The story follows three distinct men of similar backgrounds who happen to cross paths. That's the story they wanted to create. They are not obligated to make a woman the lead just because it'll make them look good to a certain crowd. Any writer will tell you that their creativity and overall product will suffer if they aren't given the opportunity to write what they feel. It's no more sexist than Vince Gilligan choosing to write more prominent male roles than female roles in Breaking Bad.

The bottom line is that GTA V doesn't need a female lead character. In fact, shoehorning a female into the role for the sake of satisfying feminists would be a disservice to the cause. Any depiction of today's politically-correct vision of a strong woman that doesn't come from a genuine heart is a waste of everyone's time. It's like playing a game with a multiplayer mode that feels forced. The result is something uninteresting, unwanted, and ultimately forgettable. It does nothing to push things ahead. I'm interested in playing as a woman in GTA, but if the writers choose to go another way, I support their creative vision 100%.

Grand Theft Auto V

Killer Is Dead is the most recent example of why feminism is needed in gaming. I hesitate to call it misogynistic, since that would imply a hatred or distrust of women. I think a more accurate word for Killer Is Dead's depiction of women is immature. Perhaps it's the cultural differences between Japan and the Western world, but games like this make for interesting discussions. Does the ample cleavage, constant gawking, and Gigolo Missions fall under creative freedom, or is it something that could benefit from a feminist education? In this case, I think it depends on what the females bring to the game overall. Killer Is Dead could have gotten away with a lot of things in the name of art, much like exploitation films. The problem is the execution of these titillating events are seen as boring. It comes off as nothing more than a way to stare at boobs and get your character laid. It's hard for me to believe Grasshopper Manufacture wanted to do anything other than make a sex mini-game. We gamers, as a whole, are better than that. It's going to take a lot more than virtual boobs to make us like a game. To believe otherwise is offensive to our medium and the huge percentage of female gamers.

Feminist ideals in gaming are an example of an industry that is growing up. It shows the audience is mature and set to weed out outdated archetypes. It's important to pick the right battles though. It's not so much about replacing males with females as it is finding the right balance between creative freedom and modern ideals.

Jeremy Hill
Jeremy Hill
@JeremyTHill

Contributing Writer
Date: 10/02/2013

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