Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Not the Few, Butt the Many

Sexism in video games is a slippery problem because it isn’t a problem with one game.  The problem is with the trend or the mass of games in total.  Most of us spend more of our lives as adults than teens so it isn’t completely inappropriate for adults to want to play adult / playful games where there are sexy options.  If the ratio to sexy was some arbitrary number less than 80% sexy to 20% not applicable (i.e. games that don’t feature humanoids of any kind), then maybe we would be on the right track.  But honestly, every game that features a female character seems to make sure that character is sexy, objectified, or straight up abused.  A “good” game might only suffer one of these traits where a bad game just says “fuck it, slap that bitch.”  There are exceptions, but these shining gems numbering only a small handful.  This is the problem.  It isn’t that any one game can’t just be “good fun” or “just a game”… it’s that all of them are.   So we might have titles like Tera Online and that’s okay as long as for every one Tera there should be at least one Mass Effect (where even ME suffers Miranda Ass Syndrom).

The excuse that these are games marketed for men is bullshit.  The excuse that this is all that teenage boys want is bullshit.  The excuse that this is all that sells is bullshit.  I would buy, “We sorta suck at game design/writing so we put in a lot of boobs”.  This I would believe.  So get some better writers.  Follow some real world examples… We don’t have strippers on Wall Street.  We have a special section of town for that.  Build worlds with adult options in certain locations.  Make them age restricted.  Sure kids will get around it, but really if the kids want sexy online options, they have plenty.  What I want is a place where I can play “normal” and maybe go visit “Online Amsterdam” if I feel like it.  We can develop social values inside these games and we should.  We actually already are, we’re just not paying attention to what we’re developing.

So again… it isn’t that sex is wrong or sexy is wrong or any one sexy game is wrong.  It is that having sexy women in *all* games with no options to avoid it is wrong.  Not OMG it should be illegal wrong… but “Please, for the love of Mike give us some realistic options.”

I'll add one more easy to understand concept.... Simply let everyone pick all options.  If design requirements mandate separate modelling for female vs. male characters make sure that both genders can opt in to all the available options where some of those options should be not-sexy.  Let men where bikinis, let women put on full body coverage.  Options to be what you want instead of what the game designers want you to play.

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