Women and Games: Some Clarifications

I realise that, with this post, I have well and truly become a blogger: I am perpetuating, and perhaps even starting debate that would have lain silent (stewing in my head, no doubt) had I bothered to keep my fingers from typing all of this up. But, I have something to say, and I have a place where I can say it.

It seems like my posts last week, both here and on Playgressive (site no longer exists) have been garnering a lot of comments. The comments on my blog are largely well-thought-out and nicely articulated. However several of the responses on Playgressive are fairly dismissive. They basically amount to: “If you don’t like those games, don’t buy them.” and “Stop whining, bitch.” Okay, those aren’t direct quotes, but the spirit of the comments is there.

To address the first point: I don’t label a game as bad simply because it portrays women in an unfavourable way. Just because a game objectifies women is not in and of itself going to stop me from looking into the game (or buying the game), because it is my own interests and tastes that will ultimately determine whether I purchase it or not.

For example, Vampire the Masquerade – Bloodlines portrays most of the female non-player characters as sluts, whores, prostitutes, and evil temptresses of the night. I may disagree with the sheer number of unsavoury depictions of women in the game (versus ‘good’ depictions of women), however I also understand that it’s Vampire — it’s meant to show us the darkest side of humanity. The World of Darkness is not a happy place. And it’s not like the men in Vampire are that much better than the women in regards to their morality. I happen to enjoy Vampire: The Masquerade because I did play the game in it’s non-digital form for several years. Ergo, because I do enjoy the stories of the World of Darkness, I would be interested in the Vampire: The Masquerade – Bloodlines PC game.

Second example: I was, at one point, both intrigued and put off by Rumble Roses, the all-women wrestling game, made for the sole purpose of titillating young men. Clearly the game objectified women. And it was one of those games where you know it’ll be so bad, that you can’t help but keep an eye out for it. But I do have a(n ironic) sense of humour. The game looked like cheesy fun. If I hadn’t read several reviews which stated that the controls were really shite, and that the game was really shite all around, I might have rented it (provided I could find it).

Third example: Death by Degrees. Arguably, Nina Williams is one of Tekken‘s most lusted-after female characters. One could hardly disguise a spin-off game starring the buxom Irish assassin as anything more than a huge cash-in on her sex appeal. However, Nina Williams, including her sex appeal, is one of my favourite Tekken characters. So, I couldn’t very well ignore any forthcoming solo game, so I kept an eye on it. It turns out, this game was utter shite as well. Surprise, surprise. Naturally, I didn’t buy it.

So to conclude my rebuttal to the first point of “If you don’t like those games, don’t buy them”, well… I don’t. I voted with my wallet, and hopefully, shitty games like Death by Degrees will be less likely to see the light of day. And at the same time, I won’t avoid a good game just because I think the portrayal of women could be improved.

To address the second point about “complaining”. A majority group doesn’t always good-naturedly tolerate the complaints of the minority because they don’t see the complaints as valid, or perhaps they don’t see the situation as all that bad. In other words, there might be a failure to see the perspective of the other side. So, it’s hardly surprising that most gamers would dismiss or ridicule another gamer’s complaints about video games vis-a-vis gender. From their perspective, there isn’t much wrong with the status quo, and there are any number of explanations for their rationale, the big one being “most gamers are male, so they have to make games that will appeal to men”.

I don’t know if I would be able to explain my point in a way that would be acceptable or understandable to people who believe that everything is okay, and everything is cool in the industry — at least, not without one of those point of view guns that I saw in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy film a few weeks ago. I feel I already did that just fine as I already wrote a huge explanation of what I think is wrong about games that try to appeal to women, and what changes could be made to games to attract women.

If people saw my side of the issues, disagreed with my opinion, and still complained about me “complaining” (when, from my point of view, I was simply voicing my opinion) — well, tough shit. I think there are a lot of things that could be improved in the industry, not just the gender thing. Therefore, I won’t stop commenting upon them, because I simply disagree with the opinion that “everything is fine.”

I don’t complain all the time. I love video games. I love playing them. I love reading about them. I love discussing them. I enjoy debating issues about them. I wouldn’t have an entire blog devoted just to video games if I didn’t think they were important to me, or if I didn’t like them. Hell, I complain about them precisely because I love them, and because I see so much potential for where they could go.

  2 comments for “Women and Games: Some Clarifications

  1. 8 June 2005 at 01:35

    Those comments got me a bit hot under the collar. I was tempted to post a scathing reply, but a) they probably won’t come back to read it and b) wouldn’t understand my point if they did.

    Sometimes I’m pretty disheartened by the gaming audience.

  2. Dyannamika
    8 June 2005 at 03:28

    I of course agree with you here… sometimes arguing with some of the gaming community is pointless. I try not to get too riled up, but I agree with Corvus and Brinstar.

    Sometimes a game is just BAD… and I’m not a rabid feminist… Sure some games objectify women, some don’t. I’d just like to see some more that don’t.

    I like GOOD games, rather than just games. I have standards!

    :)

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