There are some of you out there that have made a big stink about the video game industry being sexist. Well the truth of it is that sexism only exists because you people who keep whining about it keep bringing it up. Seriously. Women in gaming aren’t empowered? You mean like Miley Cyrus empowered or really, actually empowered? Woman have a strong presence in gaming, and the fact that some people just don’t seem to get that is just ridiculous. The real tragedy is that the people who make the most noise seem to only care about the female characters on screen. Well, what about all the women behind the scenes who helped bring that character to fruition? Let’s take a real look at why sexism in gaming is dead…and should be a moot topic completely.
The first time I ever heard the word “sexism” used in the same sentence with a video game in it was the day I heard a female friend of mine talking about how pissed off she was that they were adding female characters to Gears of War 3. She had a host of reasons for her anger, and she was not scared to share them with any of us who were standing around. “First off,” she said, “These chicks are NOT the chicks from the book series…which honestly would have been the only way I would’ve wanted women in the games. Bernie was the shit!” She was talking about the brazenly empowered Sergeant Bernadette Mataki (she first appeared in the book Jacinto’s Remnant, by Karen Traviss). She was a survivalist and one unmistakably awesome character. My friend further went on to say that she was sick and tired of girls getting pissed because games didn’t cater to them. “This isn’t F#@!ng Disney Princesses, it’s Gears of War! If some girl doesn’t want to play Gears ‘cause it doesn’t have any girls you can play as, then they need to find another game to play.”
I realize that in the world of fantasy and science fiction, often women are portrayed as being feeble. But honestly, take a look at characters like Lara Croft from the Tomb Raider series. Sure, she started out as a busty pre-teen, fantasy-type character. But it was her demeanor and her insane abilities to survive any situation that made her endearing. She may have lured all of us male gamers in with her feminine wiles, but she kept us ready to buy the next game because she was a badass, and she knew her stuff when it came to archaeology and the ancient world. It was like being able to play through an Indiana Jones adventure with a beautiful and strong woman at the helm.
I bring her up specifically because she has had a re-envisioning in the gaming mainstream. She has been stripped of all of her overly well-endowed glory. The hot pants have been stripped away and replaced with an explorer’s garb. And she has been given the chance to prove her worth in gaming by being the very strong and empowered woman that all the girls who keep complaining want to see. Now I have heard, “Well, she still looks too sexy to be an archaeologist or whatever.” To that I respond with, “How many archaeologists do you know?” I actually know several, and two of them are very pretty women. And most of the time when I see them, they are in nice clothes that make them look very attractive. Now, I have also seen photos of these women in Egypt, Malaysia, and Kenya. In those photos, they look very much like the new Lara Croft. They wore tank tops drenched in sweat and dirt along with cargo pants equally as dirty. So I personally fail to see any validity in this argument.
Here’s where it gets dicey. I also hear people complaining about how women in high-fantasy games are always scantily clad when going into battle. While that is true, you need to examine the source of high fantasy. High-fantasy games, books, films, and other things are derived from a genre of art. Artists and painters like Larry Elmore, Frank Frazetta, and Julie Bell have created a world where the lines of fantasy and reality have been stripped away and thrown to the wind. It is a world where beautiful models, both male and female, are taken back to a more barbaric age but are given an air of elegance and beauty that weren’t present in that actual time and place. So in essence, what they have done is taken a historically derelict time in human evolution and packaged it up with weapons and near-naked beautiful people to sell things. These beautiful but powerful people embody the most primal desires of both men and women alike. So I fail, again, to see how this is a relevant argument for sexism in the gaming industry.
I concede that games such as Mass Effect and Grand Theft Auto have introduced illicit sex into the gaming world. But as we all know (and if you don’t, you should), gaming is a form of escapism. Work, school, and life in general are all filled with things that we would rather not do. So when we play games we are, in essence, escaping from all of that and immersing ourselves in a world that is far more exciting than our own. And since gaming companies are trying ever harder to create a more immersive experience to enhance that escapism, it is only natural that the inclusion of sex was coming.
Now, that being said, people tend to retort with instances of sexual deviance in games like Saint’s Row and Grand Theft Auto. But the truth is that humans are devious creatures. We are always finding new ways to push the societal envelope. We are constantly striving to see what we can get away with, no matter how small the event. So again, it’s only logical that sexual deviance (which is rampant in our society anyway) would make an appearance as well. Do games seem to glorify that sort of behavior? Yes. Is that right? No. But it is what it is, and that’s why there are ratings in place. That system, if adhered to by the people who seemingly pay no attention to its existence, will eliminate the issue of these types of games getting into the wrong hands.
The long and short of it is that sexism is a lie that has been created for you to keep clicking on websites, watching shows that these people say you shouldn’t, and playing games that are devious because there is such a stink about it in the media. There is a saying: “Bad publicity is the best publicity.” Well it’s true. When have you ever read about Paris Hilton or Lindsey Lohan kissing a baby or saving a puppy from being euthanized? Um, never. You know why? No one cares. Because they do crazy stuff, and there are people who pay incredible amounts of money for photos and eyewitness accounts of those exploits. No one gives a crap about Paris Hilton going to a sick-kids ward in a hospital and talking to kids about their dreams. They only care if the sex tape is still available on the Internet. And that, folks, is why sexism exists. The industry loves for people to get up in arms about their stuff. It sells.
So as I said before, sexism in gaming is dead. It’s only still a topic because people keep bringing it up…just like I did, just now. Damn! You got me, sexism critics. You got me talking about it to propagate the nightmare. You may have won this round, but I promise that you won’t see me bringing it up again…just to spite you. Now quit complaining and go play some games. After all, that’s what gamers do, right?