Play like a girl!
The topic of females in gaming is quite a hot one. Whether we're debating about the disproportionate ratio of women to men in the gaming industry or the size of Laura Croft's chest, we are inevitably going to go into many deeper questions. For example: What effect does the portrayl of women in gaming have on all of us? Do female gamers need more respect or do they already have it? Why do so many games only appeal to males and not females, even though we make up almost half the fanbase? I present to you my opinion of these questions and more...
How Female Gamers are Treated
I've been one of the lucky female gamers to never have any blatant and/or offensive sexism hurled my way. I don't really play online, so I've never encountered the wrath of some pissed off immature kid who wants to throw insults at me. I discuss games with my male and female friends alike, and have been fortunate enough to have never been taunted for playing "girly jrpgs" or something equally ridiculous.
I'm gonna go out on a limb here and say that most male gamers aren't going to disrespect and demean a female gamer simply because she is a girl. You gotta earn respect, and a skilled female gamer could probably get as much praise and respect as any skilled guy. Its unfortunate that we occassionally run across an annoying, immature, albeit very loud, minority that will be so butthurt at having lost that they throw a sexist remark your way. Its also unfortunate that a few, again, minority of guys are stuck in the 1800s and think women can't be equals with them at anything, much less video games.
We women make up almost half of the gaming community. That's half of the mic we control, half of the purchasing power. We have power. So why are many games still primarily catered to men? What can we female gamers do? I'll get to that in a minute. Right now I want to talk about how women are portrayed in video games and if and how we should combat misogyny and sexism in games.
Bodacious Babes and Bumbling Bimbos
I am all for calling out games that are blantly sexist or misogynistic.
But the term sexist is thrown around about as loosley as the word racist. How can we really know if something is sexist and therefore offensive and harmful to female gamers when the term is used to describe anything from games like Dead or alive to Laura Croft's figure? What is sexist? What is misogynistic?
Personally, when I think of sexist, I think of the men who taunted the women suffragists and told them they couldn't vote. I think of some choice words made by Rush Limbaugh. I think of the term "keep 'em barefoot and pregnant." I think of the scientist that used faulty and innaccurate research to prove that women's brains were smaller, and therefore were inferior to men's bigger brains.
I don't think of Hyperdimension Neptunia, Dead or Alive (at least not the main fighting games), or Lollipop Chainsaw. Nor do I think of Laura Croft's or the girls of Devil Survivor's figures. Yet some people would define these characters or games as "sexist." I guess its all up to what you believe personally, but I don't see it this way. I don't think you can fault a guy for creating a female character in his ideal image, nor can we call him sexist. A big breasted female character does not automatically mean its sexist. Same goes for skimpy outfits. Some men are always going to have well endowed female characters in their games. No amount of screaming and "THAT'S SEXIST!" is gonna stop that.
We've come a long way from the days of Beat 'em and eat 'em and Custer's Revenge. And very rarely do games as appalling as Rapelay casually slip under the radar. However, I won't deny that some developers shamelessley exploit female characters to cater to the immature, horny, pubescent male. I can play games like Lollipop Chainsaw and Neptunia and enjoy them, but no doubt I'm gonna roll my eyes at the blatant fanservice that's thrust into my face.
Again, what can female gamers do?
Rise up thats what!
We women already make up almost half of the gaming community. So why isn't it the same in the gaming industry?
I say we need more Jane McGonigals, Jade Raymonds, Kim Swifts, Soraya Sagas, and Amy Hennigs in the gaming industry. Many games appeal mostly to males because they are made by males. With more women making the stories and calling the shots, we can actually get a greater variety of games and stories to be told. More women are slowly making their way into the gaming industry, but why stop where we are now? If you're a woman and you're passionate and serious about a career in the gaming industry, I say go for it.
Female gamers should also know that you have a voice and a wallet. Vote with your money and speak your mind if you think a game is a unnacceptable and offensive. Don't be discouraged by the immature minority that thinks women suck at games and only choose "safe" and "cute" girly games. These people are trolls and idiots. One thing I just want to say to anyone, male or female, is to be careful about how we use the terms "sexist" and "misogynistic" (those are serious accusations).
Again we've come a long way from the day's of Custer's Revenge, but I say we still got a looooong ways to go.